School Resource Officers
The Fargo Police Department’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Program started in 2000 with two officers and has become one of the most cutting-edge and technologically advanced school based policing programs in the country, earning the "Model Program of the Year Award" for 2011 from the National Association of School Resource Officers. There are now eight officers assigned as full time SRO’s in community schools.
SRO’s are assigned to a specific school for up to a six-year rotation and provide a wide variety of non-traditional police services to community youth, educators and parents.
School resource officers serve two primary functions: school safety and building rapport between police officers and youth. One of the tools SRO’s use to accomplish these goals is the “SRO Triad”:
- School based law enforcement and crime prevention
- Law related education
- Law related informal counseling
As a non-traditional police assignment, school based policing is perhaps one of the most misunderstood law enforcement roles. SROs work for months, even years to establish a level of trust and rapport with their students.
There is no “typical” day for an SRO. The position requires flexibility, time management, multi-tasking skills and well developed interpersonal and de-escalation skills. SROs deal with issues from parking and traffic problems to sexual assault and domestic violence investigations; from interpersonal conflicts among students to bomb threats, even possession of weapons in the schools. SROs “think on the fly”, use creative problem solving and maintain a calm, professional demeanor under the most demanding circumstances.
Listed below are a number of duties an SRO will encounter on a regular basis:
- Enforce criminal and traffic laws at school campuses and neighborhoods
- Conduct classroom and community presentations on a variety of police subjects
- Build police-student rapport through informal, non-enforcement contacts and activities
- Act as an informal youth counselor for many problems students encounter
- Use police experience and training to improve school safety and security, in close cooperation with school administrators and faculty
- Attend after-school events and activities, like dances and sporting events
- Act as a school building liaison for residents in campus neighborhoods, addressing safety, traffic and crime concerns
- Teach 5th grade chemical abuse prevention program component (Know Your Body)
- Act as a law enforcement liaison with the schools, assisting with communication, crime prevention and criminal investigations on issues that may happen outside normal school hours