School Resources Officers Yay or Nay Revisited

School+Resources+Officers+Yay+or+Nay+Revisited

Alex Reilly, Writer

Recent fights on-campus call into question security. Specifically, was it the right decision to drop the school SRO?

After numerous complaints about unwarranted searches explicitly targeting students of color and insensitive behavior. The Sonoma Youth Group joined together in the summer of 2021 to disband the SRO after having had one campus since the summer of 2004. 

According to ACLU Washington, SROs on campus lead to a higher arrest rate where “arrests are a major contributor to the school-to-prison pipeline, which is a systemic process that pushes juveniles out of school and into the juvenile justice system.”

SROs were brought onto campus after the Columbine shooting. Over the last forty years social media has fueled the perception that students are more violent and criminal, which has led to the increase of SROs throughout the country. 

The basic facts are that shootings on campus are rare and SROs do not prevent them; therefore, they focus their work on other matters and search for crime on campus. 

Students of color or with disabilities are three times more likely to be arrested or referred by school officers.The Sonoma Valley students responded to a survey in the summer of 2021, which demonstrated that most students felt uncomfortable with the SRO on campus. Stating that “he acted differently to the white kids than the BIPOC kids. He seemed more friendly with the white kids and more uptight with the others.” 

As an incoming freshman, one of the first things I noticed was the police officer roaming the campus halls. Although I never had a one-on-one interaction with him, it was unsettling that our school felt the need to have a police presence. He was in his full uniform, and most SROs are fully armed with guns, pepper spray, and handcuffs. 

The matter of fact is that the goal of SROs sounds very reasonable, but in reality, it leads to the increased criminalization of youth and targets minority groups.

SVUSD should follow the example of Los Angeles County, which identifies the SRO program’s damage and replaces them with “school climate searches.” This is a staff position of community members trained in conflict resolution and addressing racial bias. The money that Los Angeles schools (LAUSD) spend on SROs will be going to Black Student Achievement Plan, a program that will hire professional development workers, counselors, and social workers. They will create courses to introduce social justice and diversity into the class curriculum. SVHS should follow the example of LAUSD.