School Resource Officers

The Liberty Central School District has three full-time School Resource Officers, Joseph Poppo, James Simon and Adam Lake, who help with school safety and provide education and support to students and staff on a variety of topics, including drug abuse, violence, bullying and theft.

A successful SRO program is focused on building healthy relationships between law enforcement and members of the school district to benefit individual students and the greater community. Read on for frequently asked questions and answers about SROs.

What is a school resource officer (SRO)?

An SRO is a career law enforcement officer who is assigned to work in collaboration with one or more schools, by federal definition. SROs are assigned by their employing police department, agency or sheriff’s department to this specific, community-oriented patrol duty. Unlike a security guard, an SRO is a sworn law enforcement officer with the authority to make an arrest. SROs played roles in programs that date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. In most cases, an SRO carries a gun, just as they would if they were on regular duty.

What is the role of a school resource officer?

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) considers it a best practice to use a “triad concept” to define the three main roles of school resource officers: educator (i.e. guest lecturer), informal counselor/mentor and law enforcement officer. While the role of a school resource officer can vary from district to district and from SRO to SRO, functions of an SRO include the following:

  • Mentor
  • Counselor
  • Information resource on safety and law enforcement matters
  • Protector and enforcer
  • First responder
  • Community liaison
  • Educator
  • Emergency response planner
  • Investigator

How many SROs are there in the United States?

A 2018 U.S. Department of Education report found that 42 percent of public schools in the U.S. had at least one SRO present for at least one day a week during the 2015-16 school year. NASRO estimates between 14,000 and 20,000 SROs are currently serving in districts.

Does New York require school districts to have an SRO?

New York does not require public schools to have SROs, nor does it provide funding for schools to acquire SROs. The NYS Legislature considered bills in the 2018 session related to state funding for SROs as well as allowing retired law enforcement officers to serve as SROs, but no action was taken. As of 2017, there were fewer than 200 SROs in New York.

What is the return on investment for districts with an SRO?

While studies are still emerging about the value of having an SRO, studies show that SROs can improve overall school culture and climate. Benefits of having an SRO include:

  • Prevention or minimization of property damage in schools and surrounding areas
  • Prevention of student injuries due to violence, drug overdoses, and other medical emergencies
  • Reduction of the need for schools to call 911
  • Increase of the likelihood that students will get the help they need from the social service and health care systems