CITY OF YORK,
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The School Resource Officer Program is comprised of two (2) York City Police Officers who are dedicated full-time to the York City School District. Each of the officers maintains an office in one of the two middle schools. However, the officers serve as the police department's liaison and resource to the entire school district. The officers support and enhance current existing school-based programs. The role of the officers is to be actively involved and take responsibility or seeking solutions for a broad scope of problems occurring within the schools.
The program is a collaborative partnership between the police department, school district and the community. The main participants are the School Resource Officer, School Faculty and the School Probation Officer. Collectively, the focus is utilizing strategies in order to reduce youth violence and victimization within the schools and the community.
2. When was the program created and why?
The increase in juvenile crime, crimes against children and drug related activity in the City of York has resulted in additional demands from the community for a more aggressive and innovative law enforcement response to these community concerns. We believe we have begun to move in the right direction with our Community Oriented Policing approach which we initiated in early 1990. With this new School Resource Officer grant which we received in the spring of 1998 from PCCD, we believe we will be able to extend this philosophy to properly focus on matters involving children.
The School District of the City of York has an enrollment of approximately 7,600 ( 17% of the City's population ). The majority of the student body of the school district live in poverty; 68% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches from the National Lunch Program. When you factor in concentrated poverty, high density housing, high density population, weak family and community ties, it unfortunately , makes for a mix, perfect for recruitment of our youth by the criminal element. These upward trends in juvenile crimes and child victims coupled with the increase of school age children, and a teen pregnancy rate that has received national attention led to a conclusion that a focus on youth involvement with the criminal justice system was necessary.
Traditional police strategies such as extra patrols and special units are usually enforcement-oriented with little attention given to the underlying causes of these problems. We feel the alternatives without a tie to the community, and particularly the school community, would not have as effective an impact as a school resource officer approach.
3. How do you measure the program's effectiveness?
Criteria for evaluating results of programs of this type have already been established and evaluated in larger departments. A comprehensive review of other School Resource Officer Programs is currently being undertaken to identify the most relevant methods currently being used in the law enforcement community to evaluate program performance and successes. Traditional UCR type data on reported offenses and arrests are already collected by the Records Section of the police department. The School District of the City of York has established guidelines in their reporting of offenses as required by Act 26. The school district has a " O Tolerance Policy " for incidents occurring on school campuses and has been very consistent in notifying the police department. This data is being collected as well for evaluation of program success.
Interviews and surveys of school administrators, teachers, students, representatives of Agencies and Organizations providing services to the school district and the students will be designed to monitor and evaluate the programs successes. Certainly, monitoring and tracking of juvenile offenders as well as those who victimize children will be a source of measuring the success of this type of program.
4. How is the program financed
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency approved our recent grant application for federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act funds. With this grant we were able to expand our current school-based programs by adding an additional full-time School Resource Officer . The grant is for two years and covers the salary and benefits of the officer. Additionally, through a Safe Schools grant initiated by the school district we have been able to assign an officer full-time to teach drug education programs in the middle and elementary schools.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at allHow has the community responded to the program?
The response from the community towards our initiatives in school-based programs have been positive and well received. Citizens in the community have already gained new opportunities to have direct input into the day to day policing of their neighborhoods and frequent personal contacts with their Community Policing Officer. The School Resource Officer utilizing this Community Oriented Policing philosophy will take responsibility for seeking solutions for a broad scope of problems occurring within the school. The School Resource Officer also encourages the students and their parents involvement and participation in the police department's Neighborhood Watch Program, Drug Watch Hotline and Drug Education Programs in order to discourage drug trafficking, juvenile crimes and child abuse in the neighborhoods. This Program exemplifies and reinforces more positive role models by having the School Resource Officer support and participate in a wide range of school and community programs already provided by local organizations and agencies.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.