I am often asked what does a School Resource Officer do?
Well it’s varied to say the least, but let’s look at an average day. You arrive bright and early for drop off. When the kiddos arrive you start releasing a barrage of high five, fist bumps and good mornings — hoping that your bright, shining face and pleasant demeanor will entice them into wanting to be at school or feeling just a little bit better about their day.
After the bell rings, a security check is completed on the building to ensure that each and every student and staff member inside has the safest learning environment possible. After the rounds are completed, the individual interactions with kids begin — some are having a rough day, others are frustrated at some aspect in their life and still others may be struggling with some other internal issues. The SRO tries to offer sound advice and support in an effort to make the student feel confident to return to class and embrace education. The SRO avails himself to staff for questions that arise and the occasional classroom visit.
Lunch time!! This is the opportunity for getting to know as many kids as possible. It is also the time that makes an SRO feel old and way behind the times as he tries to learn about all of the technology that these kids can use without looking.
After lunch, more meetings and maybe a chance to teach a class on the Bill of Rights, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, tech or anything related to the wonderful world of law enforcement. This usually brings us to the end of the day and dismissal. It also provides another opportunity for a generous helping of high fives, fist bumps and making sure that kids are reminded to be safe and make good decisions. We may also banter about the possible joke of the day or sports updates.
The day may also include meeting with staff on safety and security. When working with administrators we focus on how law enforcement programs can aid in correcting behavior and be an asset to a young student and not cause fear.
The responsibility of ensuring a safe and secure learning environment is paramount to all other tasks. There are plenty of ways to make a difference with today’s young people. The SRO is a police officer, but they are also a teacher, counselor, mentor, security expert, technology aficionado and a problem solver. We are dedicated to keeping our students on the path toward success.
Officer Jake Hartman is a school resource officer for the City of Delaware Police Department.