SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
In an educational/law enforcement partnership with Modesto City School District, the City of Modesto Police Department currently provides eight sworn police officers to the cityís five public high schools, the continuation high school, the school districtís junior high schools and, in partnership with the Stanislaus County Office of Education, an officer for their P.A.C.E. high school (also for continuing education). The program is in its ninth year of uninterrupted existence. All eight of these officers are from the regular sworn forces of the Modesto Police Department, selected for, and on special assignment to, these schools. They are the "personalized" officers for their assigned campus or campuses. They report to Police Department supervision but take input and general assignment from school campus administration, teachers, and parents. Each officer drives a regular patrol vehicle, has a cellular telephone, and his or her own office at the school.
The purpose of the program is to enforce state and local laws and school district policies on and around the school campuses. The goal of the program is to create safe learning environments for the children of the City of Modesto. School district officials correctly believe that school campuses are microcosms of the city, as a whole. Law enforcement issues and problems faced by the community at large will be existent on school campuses. Taking steps to meet the issues and solve the problems at the campus level has proven to be of great assistance to the city, as a whole.
2. When was the program created and why?
The School Resource Officer Program was initiated in February of 1990, with the assignment of two Modesto Police Officers to handle law enforcement on the then, four public high school campuses. Today, in 1998, there are eight such officers, providing personalized police services to all five public high school campuses, their feeder junior high schools, and the cityís two continuing educational facilities.
Two forces spurred the creation of this most effective partnership. First, the Modesto Police Departmentís D.A.R.E. program, initiated in 1987, had reaped benefits for the schools in the handling of non-enforcement contacts with students, teachers, administration and parents. The students had responded favorably to the positive role model of uniformed police officers on their campuses teaching drug and gang resistance education. Second, new California law had mandated the clear responsibility of individual school districts to provide safe and secure campuses for students. This was new ground for school districts, experts in education but not law enforcement. The districts sought the assistance of the City of Modestoís Police Department.
The Modesto City School District had long utilized the Modesto Police Department for response to their "calls for service." Based on that experience and the positive influence of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistence Education) police officers on elementary school campuses, the Modesto City School District made the decision to provide "personalized" law enforcement to junior high and high school campuses.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The School Resource Officers Program has been very effective, judged solely by the fact that it has grown by 300 percent in eight years, from the original two officers to the current eight officers. Further, it has produced a more expedient system of handling law enforcement issues and problems on the junior high and high school campuses. Police response to calls for service from the campuses has now nearly been eliminated. Law enforcement problems are handled by the police officer assigned, an officer specifically selected for the assignment because of his or her ability to effectively deal with juvenile issues. These officers usually know the students and also know school district policy and procedures, enabling them to handle the problems much more quickly than a responding beat officer. Further, these officers handle many problems at a non-enforcement level, avoiding the necessity for arrests. They also serve as positive role models for students.
During the 1997/98 school year, Modesto Police School Police Officers handled 1,819 enforcement contacts, 4,254 non-enforcement contacts, issued 330 citations, handled 40 gang-related issues, attended 288 meetings for the school district and made 542 arrests. Of these arrests, 20 percent, or 108 arrests, were for drug-related offenses. Twenty-six percent, or 142 of the arrests, were for weapons changes. Eighty arrests were for fighting on campuses. Therefore, the majority of the arrests made furthered the goal of creating safe learning environments.
4. How is the program financed?
Financing the School Resource Officers Program has also been a real partnership. Revenue for the officers is split, 50-50, between the City of Modesto General Fund and the Modesto City School District and the Stanislaus County Office of Education, in the case of the P.A.C.E. police officer.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
Community response to the School Resource Officers Program has been positive and consistently supportive. The members of the Modesto City School Board view the program as a "unique link" with the City of Modesto, and the Modesto City Council views the program as a vital component to community policing in the city.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.