The National Association of School Resource Officers told the U.S. Department of Justice that more federal money is needed to carefully select and properly train law enforcement experts for every school in the nation.
The DOJ held a law enforcement stakeholder meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday that was scheduled before Wednesday's mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, 14 students and three school staff members, and wounded 14 others. It was the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and stands behind only the Sandy Hook Elementary and Virginia Tech massacres for worst school shootings.
Mo Canady, executive director of NASRO, said SROs have stopped a number of school shootings before they happened, or ended them shortly after they began.
"If we are truly interested in keeping students safe at school, we as a nation must fund professional SROs," said Mo Canady, executive director of NASRO. "There are unfortunately no perfect solutions to the school shooting problem. But SROs—who are sworn law enforcement officers with special training for working in schools—provide a layer of security that cannot be achieved by so-called 'armed guards,' who are not sworn officers."
NASRO is also calling for funding to improve school perimeter security, which involves not just technology, policies and procedures but also training for all members of the campus community.
Canady spoke at the 2013 STN EXPO on the importance of cross-training between school district transportation and police departments. He explained that SROs, while active police officers, require additional training as well as a certain kind of disposition to act first as on-campus mentors and even guest lecturers in the classroom on safety and security.
"SROs build valuable, positive relationships with students, faculty and parents that often enable the SROs to obtain information on planned violent acts before they occur," he reiterated to the DOJ this week.
He stressed that SROs are trained to understand teenage brain development and mental health issues, temper youth fascination with firearms, address the issue of desensitization to violence, and respond to graphic posts readily available via social media.