This research paper compares and contrasts how police in the United States and the United Kingdom work and engage with young people. The United Kingdom will be based on safer schools program. For the United States, the research paper will comment on the utter failure of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) programs and the increase of school resource officers. Finally the article will focus on what can be done to curb this with the help of parents.
This research paper focuses on the roles of police in United States and United Kingdom. In United Kingdom, the study was carried out over a time limit of one year in one of the high school in London. The study used a number of methods which involved staff and students as well as focus groups. A record was also kept on how officers interacted with members involved.
In America, the study focused on a few schools and the activities of police in Lakewood police department, Colorado. In a similar manner, the study involved staff and students, several parents, school officers and members of the community. Just like in the United Kingdom, interviews were carried out and the recording of how police interacted with members involved in a diary. This gave a room for comparison to be made between the two researches.
The main objective of Safer School Partnerships is to minimize the existing crime and victimization amongst youths and to minimize the number of events and crimes in schools and community at large. It also provides a safe and secure school community which ensures there is a good learning environment. Another objective is to ensure the youths remain in school, learning and gaining their potential in full. It also attempts to engage the youths and do away with bad behaviors and assist them develop respect for both the community and themselves.
Back in 2002 the then prime minister mentioned the introduction of police officers in schools. This was in a bid to curb truancy and expulsion in schools across United Kingdom. Safer Schools Partnership Guidance was put in place and after sometime the government announced that 100 police officers were top be placed to high schools in the ten most crime affected cities London included ('Police stationed', 2002). There was no enough research on presence of police in schools and the only experience was presence of officers in American schools which involved in enforcing the law, development of resource, teaching responsibilities and counseling the youths the impacts of crime (Dickmann, 1999).
In a one of the high schools in London, an officer worked full time in that school and after he had completed he went to the United States to see the role of police officers who had stayed there for the last fifteen years, to curb crime activities. Officers in the two countries decided to form a school resource officer exchange with other partners ('Police stationed', 2002).
The officers found out that their roles of officers were the same in that they enforced the law when the need arose and they gave counseling to the youths, parents, the institution and the staff at large (Dickmann, 1999). The outstanding difference is that, the officers from America took part more in classroom teaching than those in United Kingdom. It was hard for the officers of the United Kingdom to take part in classroom teaching. In United States, officers came up with classroom lessons, made presentations and initiated teaching in classes the way to help the youths and create a god relationship with the teachers and the administration (Dickmann, 1999).
Both the officers from the United States and United Kingdom realized that their working hours were mostly spent while dealing with issues affecting the youths apart from when the officers attended training that was required and meetings related to work (Briers, 2002). These issues involving youths included meetings, investigation issues, and soliciting school and society based resources for the youths and their families. Officers in both cases were so much interested in improving lives of the youths and paid attention in improving the welfare of the learners (Briers, 2002).
The officers realized that, they enforced law whenever the need arose although when appropriate. Many officers found that the philosophy in both cases was just the same in regard to use of diversion opportunities and restorative practices for young law breakers instead of putting the youths in the respective justice system. These diversion opportunities included peer mediation; drug courts for teenagers, restorative justice cycle and other school and community based diversionary programs (Briers, 2002).
In both cases, officers found it hard to develop and maintain relationships with school based staff especially the principal, in case of United States, and the headmaster in the United Kingdom. The officers faced similar rejection from the administrators. The officers shared their experiences with the hope to come up with ways out to solve the problem (Briers, 2002).
The officers came to notice and discussed often during exchanges, that their non-school based fellow officers were critical of their school based roles (Briers, 2002). These fellows did not seem to understand the day to day problems as well as little knowledge of the positive effect they were making in the school and neighboring environment. A number of officers' observed that their peers attitudes ranged from insulting to an attitude of being grateful that someone was looking after the youths so they did not have to (Briers, 2002).
Officers in both countries observed that there was no understanding of their responsibilities by the supervisors as well as the managers in top positions. This led to break down of communication and inadequate allocation of resources ('Police stationed', 2002).
The officers in United States and United Kingdom observed that, they were not given enough training and appropriate training for their roles. Training was either not given prior to taking the position of training that was given was very minimal or of no use. The cried foul that, compared to other positions in policing; the school officer was not exposed to formal policing training standards ('Police stationed', 2002).
Officers in each case observed that there was separation from their police peers and other school based police officers. The meetings which were held regularly could help solve these isolations and gave room for sharing information and strategies (Briers & Dickmann 2008). The best way to go about it was to have meetings in schools and rotate the program to give all officers a chance and staff to get to know the school resource officer in the school resource officer unit (Briers & Dickmann 2008).
The officers talked about the crisis that they navigated in regard to need s and requirements from their police department and staff school. The conflict revolved around two important issues (Briers & Dickmann 2008). The first one was officers being away from school for police training and court appearances. This brought crisis with the institution because they believed police were supposed to spend all their time in school and not in any other place (Briers & Dickmann 2008). The other area was that, officers were not included in youth disciplinary action. Institutions always wanted officers to take part in disciplining and when they turned down the offer, it bought a lot of crisis with school administration. During exchange, school resource officers saw there was limited understanding in regard to conflicting needs despite the prevalence. In short, the officers were left in the middle (Briers & Dickmann 2008).
Just what can be done to curb this? Parents and communities alike are asking that the law enforcement agencies take charge of the situation and take actions to make schools, to make the community a safe place. The authority has to be allowed to take actions such as making arrests in schools and this should be supported by parents and the heads of schools. This should happen anytime the officer deems it necessary (Briers & Dickmann 2008). Offenses such as assault, robbery or drug dealing cannot wait. Current policy does not gives mandate to officers to exercise this power without the consent of the school administration and the parent of the student involved. Arrests are only made in exceptional cases which are not even written down ('Police stationed', 2002).
Cases which happen in school should be taken care of by the school officers to ensure there is a consistent method used in dealing with the behavior portrayed by the student and subsequent action to be taken ('Police stationed', 2002). In United Kingdom, they should consider adopting dedicated juvenile detectives to help in monitoring and processing of children who are arrested which is what is being done in United States. In order to curb this, school officers should be empowered by parents and the school.
Truancy powers should be amended to allow police officers to take back truants to school by force if the need arises. Police officers should be given power to take back students who are playing truant daily, the laws that are currently there do not allow for such a thing to happen. A simple solution would be to have an authority that would return students to school any time during school day (Briers, 2002). To give an opportunity to truants to walk around the streets without the fear of being taken back to school by officers provides them with a chance to become victims of crime. An amendment of the existing practice needs to be reviewed to enable officers to track down the truants in collaboration with parents and the school management (Briers, 2002).
Another thing that can be done to those excluded is to occupy them other than them hanging around with nothing to do. There are a number of activities that such students can engage in that would keep their mind in school (Atkinson, 2000). This can be possible if parents, school management, welfares that relate to education work together as a team. This would surely provide an opportunity to make use of acceptable behavior contract (ABCs) and parental control agreement (PCAs) into the learning institutions as a way of curbing behavior of certain students. The officers must be made aware of these cases in order to handle them (Atkinson, 2000).
There is need to look at how intruders can be dealt with in the school. There is need to patrol the school compound and advising the school management on safety and security issues within the school. In the United Kingdom, police need to work closely around the school area and review issues in regard to contingency plans in the case of emergency or major incident (Atkinson, 2000).
Finally, the parents, officers and the school management should come on board and talk to students on the issues affecting them. If this happens, they can be in a position to offer them with professional advice and if possible they can propose appropriate diversion activities in form of voluntary organization, soccer clubs among others (Atkinson, 2000). Most of these activities can be run during and after school with the assistance of school staff and parents as well as other agencies. In America for instance, schools rely on counselors and peers to meet the student's need more so when they become victims of crime and need some support (Atkinson, 2000).
By putting in place the above discussed the successful element of the United Kingdom and American approach to police officers in school, it highlights the move away from the archaic way of merely instructing youths on issues of crime and the move towards providing police in schools who are a real resource (Briers, 2002).
It is evident from experience that has been seen in America that school based police officers are extremely effective in minimizing crime and disorder by building connections with the school and the community through structured aims. The United Kingdom needs to adopt some of these approaches, which can be implemented via a structured training program for both police and teachers (Briers, 2002).