The Obama administration has urged schools to make the roles of school resource officers clear by outlining what is expected of them
In union with the Departments of Education and Justice, the Obama Administration is urging schools in the country to make sure school resource officers and campus police understand their roles in and around school premises.
On Wednesday, the departments sent letters to universities and schools with hints and ways to make certain that school resource officers do their jobs properly.
After several cases of conflicts and altercations between students and school resource officers in recent times, the intervention by the departments comes just at the right time. The incident at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, where a Black teen was assaulted and dragged across the classroom by a resource officer brought about an outrage from the public and some people questioning the safety of students around cops.
“As educators, we are all bound by a sacred trust to protect the well-being, safety, and extraordinary potential of the children, youth and the young adults within the communities we serve,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. wrote in a memo Thursday. “School resource officers can be valuable assets in creating a positive school environment and keeping kids safe. But we must ensure that school discipline is being handled by trained educators, not by law enforcement officers.”
“At the college level, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing has important recommendations that can help campus and local law enforcement both keep students safe and safeguard students’ civil rights,” King added.
The letters which were addressed to schools nationwide were accompanied by additional resources and documents advising the schools to sign memorandums of understanding with local police agencies, in order to clarify what should be expected of the officers and rules to be followed when handling situations with students.
The effort from the departments can only be applauded, as they look to stop the zero-tolerance disciplinary tactics used by school resource officers, especially when dealing with Black students. Officers are present in schools to keep them safe and not there to administer day-to-day discipline. This is a step in the right direction, as it combats some of the issues students and school resource officers face.
Source: Atlanta Black Star