SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) program for the Irving Police Department is a part of the Community Services Division. Fourteen officers and one sergeant are assigned to the secondary schools and 3 additional officers are assigned to the elementary schools. There are approximately 50 private and public schools in the City covering four separate and independent school districts. Programs that are coordinated by the SROs' include campus Crimestoppers, KeyLink (a student mentoring program), Police Explorers (for those students interested in law enforcement), Safety Town (a miniature city designed to teach I st grade traffic safety), as well as school sponsored programs.
2. When was the program created and why?
The Irving SRO program was created in 1985 by assigning six officers to the program. These officers shared the responsibility of providing law enforcement services and safety related presentations to the IISD secondary schools. One Elementary Safety Officer position had existed for many years and was both popular and successful with the almost 20,000 students who had participated in elementary safety presentations. Unfortunately, most positive contact between these students and the police ended when the students moved on to the secondary education level. In an effort to reinforce the ideas and principles the students had been given throughout their elementary "career" and to maintain a rapport with the students as they moved towards adulthood, SROs were placed on select secondary campuses.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
Although the main focus of the SRO program was designed to provide guidance, counseling, and educational presentations concerning safety and law enforcement related topics, there was some initial resistance from campus principals. They voiced concern that the presence of an armed, uniformed police officer based in the school cast the school in a bad light and gave the impression that the principal could not effectively manage or things were " out of control". Apparently, those who expressed the most concern have been convinced of the benefits of the program. The positive feedback from the students, school, and staff has been the primary measuring stick for the effectiveness of the SRO program. Community support in obtaining additional personnel and resources (police bicycles, computers, police equipment) that relate directly to the SRO program indicate the police/school relationship is a success. Ten years after it was initiated, the SRO program has almost tripled in manpower alone with additional personnel being asked for (by the community) as student enrollment continues to climb. Confidence in the program can also be measured by the increase in incidents being reported to the police. In the past, criminal conduct went unreported by students, and even teachers, because of their unfamiliarity with individual officers or the criminal justice system in general. Now, with a SRO readily available, disposition is being made on incidents as they occur or shortly thereafter. Gang members no longer have the ability to remain anonymous or intimidate others within the school because of the close proximity of the SRO and the continued relationship that exists between the students and the police. Community support has been the best way to measure the effectiveness of the program.
4. How is the program financed?
The City of Irving has contracted with the Irving Independent School District to share in the cost of salaries for the fifteen officers who deal almost exclusively with the IISD campuses. All other benefits and training are provided for by the department. Uniforms and most equipment is paid for by the department, however, donations from a variety of community businesses and civic groups helps defray the cost of additional equipment and programs.
5. How is the community involved in the program? How has the community responded to the program?
The community is involved by providing funds for programs coordinated by some of the SROs. An annual auction and golf tournament to benefit some of these same programs receives a tremendous community response.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.