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Making Schools Safer and or Escalating Disciplinary Response: A Study of Police Officers in North Carolina Schools

NCJ Number
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Volume: 43 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2021 Pages: 495-519
Lucy C. Sorensen; Yinzhi Shen; Shawn D. Bushway
Date Published
April 2021
25 pages

This study uses linked disciplinary, academic, juvenile justice, and adult conviction data from North Carolina to estimate the effects of middle school School Resource Officers (SROs) on a variety of student outcomes.


The “defund the police” movement has recently called for the removal of police—or school resource officers (SROs)—from schools. This call is driven by concerns that SROs may heighten student contact with criminal justice or lead to disproportionately harsh disciplinary consequences. Our findings indicate that SROs not only decrease the incidence of serious violence but also increase the use of out-of-school suspensions, transfers, expulsions, and police referrals. This study provides new insights into the effects of police in schools and implies new directions for policies, training, and accountability. (Publisher Abstract Provided)