Today, crime creates fear that reaches every corner of our society, including our schools. Many police agencies have formed partnerships with school systems to create the School Resource Officer Program. The School Resource Officer Program places a law-enforcement officer on a school campus, making it the officer’s assigned patrol area. The School Resource Officer Program is considered one of the most proactive strategies in community-oriented policing and crime prevention. By applying a community oriented policing philosophy within the school, the School Resource Officer (SRO) is able to assist the school administration in providing the most secure and orderly environment possible.
P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School, a K-12th grade school, is part of the University of Florida’s College of Education. As a result it is within the jurisdiction of the University of Florida Police Department. In 1996, the University of Florida Police Department assigned a full-time School Resource Officer to P.K. Yonge. This officer is one of the few School Resource Officers in Florida to work in a school that includes elementary, middle and high school.The SRO is a specially trained, state-certified law enforcement officer who is assigned full time during the academic school year. The SRO Program is based on a cooperative relationship between law enforcement officers, teachers, school personnel and parents. It develops a positive relationship between the SRO and students.The SRO fulfills several important roles. First, as a law enforcement officer, he/she must enforce the law in a consistent and fair manner. The SRO must take the necessary enforcement actions required to ensure a safe and peaceful learning environment. Second, the SRO serves as an instructor, teaching classes that are many times related to core subjects, such as legal issues and citizenship. Some specific topics presented in these classes include juvenile rights, laws of arrest, search and seizure and laws pertaining to alcohol, drugs, DUI and traffic. Finally, the SRO is a counselor, being permanently assigned to the school campus the SRO is readily available to assist students and staff members with personal and school related problems when appropriate.The School Resource Officer at P. K. Yonge is involved with various school activities. The officer’s duties include co-sponsoring the Students Against Drunk Driving (S.A.D.D.) chapter, providing security at after hour social functions and at athletic events and attending parent meetings. The officer is seen as a part of the campus environment. The presence of a law enforcement officer on campus provides opportunities for positive experiences between the law enforcement officer and the students. These experiences can lead to greater mutual understanding and respect, potentially resulting in the prevention of delinquency and crime.
To learn more about School Resource Officers, refer to the National Association of School Resource Officers home page located at www.nasro.org or the Florida Association of School Resource Officers home page located at www.fasro.net. If you wish to obtain more information concerning the P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School, please refer to the P. K. Yonge home page located at www.pky.ufl.edu.