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According to Theriot (2009), SROs are considered to be a vital component in many schools nationwide, and are becoming an accepted part of the school and community environment. While the SROs are assigned to the schools, they play a vital role in the school community. This role involves developing a rapport with school administrators to address problems within the school setting. Once this is accomplished, it is implied by Atkinson (2000) as “Community Policing,” which is defined as the interaction between SROs and school administrators to address the causes and reduce the fear of crime and social disorder through the use of collaboration and problem solving relationship.
Any school may be defined as a certain community characterized by a special social structure. Subtly, this unbroken social setting provides backing for children similarly to their family surroundings and neighborhood background (Reeding, 2010). Just as conflicts typically occur in all school communities including those that are friendly and cooperating, the need has arisen to educate the school staff on how to form their attitudes and handle conflicts. In other words, the skills of effective conflict management in a school setting need to be developed. The SRO facilitates the development of necessary expertise in school community representatives, as well as helps them to gain insight in how to establish the relationship oriented to solving problems. Specifically, the SRO are required to acquire knowledge of a range of accessible resources, which may be effectively used either by the school staff or by community members, due to the problem-solving component inherent in community policing. Within the partnership that develops as a part of community policing, the design of effective strategies, both intervention (at an early stage) and preventative, is the responsibility of a law enforcement officer. Similarly to partnerships that develop in any community, the one within the school community is based on a continuous process of trust development, interaction, and information exchange (Atkinson, 2002)
The notion of community policing applies to a specific philosophy of advancement of a set of organizational strategies which provide backing for the regular use of interventions with focus on solving problems and developing partnerships. These strategies are designed to solve such serious issues related to public safety as crime and lack of social order, as well as prevent the fear of crime through effective collaboration and well-established partnership between community members and the police. Community policing is also about development and reinforcement of the understanding of what good citizenship is in school students by means of managing schools as neighborhoods and students in these schools as citizens (Atkinson, 2002). Sometimes school setting may be hard to understand due to its complex organization. This, however, may be improved through development of awareness about every member of the community. Indeed, shared visions and relationships built on trust may help resolve problems owing to productive partnerships. The latter will be achieved within a shorter timeframe if the SRO and the representatives of school administration recognize the existence of the common ground and common objectives between their types of activity.
Statistically, the United States spends more than $500 billion annually to maintain the education system, in particular to support public elementary and secondary schools. While different states have different per student expenditures, an average sum spent on a student by an American school district equals $10,591 per year (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009). The soaring rate of school violence leads to an increase of suspension rates among American school students. This, in its turn, leads to losses of funds and schools closure.
It is a must that school administrators enhance their awareness of safety and security measures that may be applied in a school setting. In the United States, the parental status has been acknowledged an important component of school organization on the basis of recognition of parents’ rights and duties alike. The mission of School Resource Officers engaged in a work within the social structure of a school is to facilitate students’ becoming good citizens through serving their interests, as well as protecting and supporting them. Specifically, it is within the competence of the SRO to further consolidate these duties with the aim to assist students in becoming adequate citizens.
The emphasis of community policing should be maintained on the following aspects: partnerships between the police and members of community that aim to resolve problems arising in the neighborhood; focus on factors that boost crime rates and conduce to disorder; support of decentralization of policing services; application of numerous strategies and use of specific tactics; perceiving any citizen or member of community as a resource; enhancement of officer authority and greater officer accountability (Atkinsom, 2000, p.4). The SRO are obliged to have an overall understanding of the community as well as maintain effective cooperation with its members since the role of the community in students’ activity is recognized to be fundamental. This is explained by the fact that it is communities that decide on how schools and school districts should operate (Myrstol, 2011). This is referred to as community partnership. The latter is generally based on collaboration between law enforcement officers and people living in the neighborhood, as well as representatives of government agencies, community members, businessmen, representatives of school administration, church activists, members of various organizations, and public servants. The aim of this partnership is to provide solutions to problems that may be found in school environment (Atkinson, 2000). Community partnerships are characterized by focus on attaining common goals, increasing commitment to carrying out changes, and playing an important role in ensuring more data are available to help solve arising problems (Altheide, 2009).