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Effects of School Resource Officers on School Crime and Responses to School Crime

NCJ Number
Criminology and Public Policy Volume: 19 Dated: 2020 Pages: 905-940
Date Published
36 pages

This study examined the effects of an increase in the staffing of school resource officers (SROs) on school crime and response to school crime in a sample of 33 public middle schools and high schools in California that received funding for SRO staffing under the U.S. Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program.


Security in these 33 schools was compared to that of 72 schools in a matched sample that did not increase SRO staffing during the period examined. The study conducted longitudinal analyses of monthly school administrative data on disciplinary offenses and actions. The study used monthly data in an interrupted time series design with a comparison series to examine whether study outcomes changed in the 2-month or 3-month period that coincided with the intervention. The administrative data were augmented with self-report data from the local law enforcement agencies responsible for SROs in the selected schools at the intervention point, as well as from school administrators and SROs at those schools. Based on the survey of school administrators, treatment and comparison schools were equivalent on the mean number of SRO hours per week pre-intervention, but differed on this measure post-intervention. In the treatment schools, SROs spent about half their time in activities related to law enforcement and order maintenance, 30 percent of their time on counseling and mentoring, and 20 percent in teaching activities. The study found that in the schools that increased SRO staffing, there was an increase in the number of identified drug-related and weapons-related offenses compared to the schools without increases in the number of SROs. There was also an increase in exclusionary disciplinary action by the schools with increased SRO staffing. Because of this latter finding, the study recommends that schools consider security alternatives to an increased law enforcement presence in schools. 6 tables and 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 2020