Falconer Central School District
The Falconer Central School District, in collaboration with the Chautauqua County Sheriff Department, established the School Resource Officer position in the fall of 2001. The School Resource Officer is a sworn police officer and a member of the Chautauqua County Sheriff Department. The SRO was originally assigned full-time to the Falconer Central District. In September 2005, the program went through some changes and the Chautauqua County Sheriff SRO was changed to serve Falconer on a part-time basis with the Town of Ellicott also providing a police officer to fill the SRO duties on alternating days. The CCSD SRO and TOE SRO serve a population of approximately 1500 students and their parents.
The SRO serves as teacher, counselor, role model, and advocate for students, families, faculty and staff. The SRO is not the school disciplinarian, nor doe he/she supplant any other staff function. He/she brings full service, personalized policing to an important segment of our community. With a full-time presence in the schools, the SRO is easily recognized and approachable for students.
In the classroom, the SRO present classes on topics such as history of law enforcement, search and seizure, constitutional rights, criminal law, and drug abuse.
The SRO’s duties extend far beyond the classroom and normal work day. The officer participates in PTO and faculty meetings, club projects, student social functions, and sporting events. The SRO’s presence demonstrates the officer’s commitment to the students and tends to strengthen the student/police bond. This also demonstrates the police department’s willingness to go beyond the normal tour of duty for the safety and interest of the students.
The ultimate goal of an SRO program is to maintain and improve the safety of the learning environment in our schools through the reduction and prevention of school violence and drug abuse. The School Resource Officer is armed and required to wear his uniform at all times. He is always recognizable as a police officer. While his primary focus is prevention and deterrence, the SRO conducts all criminal investigations on campus, coordinating his activities with the building administrator. Although under the direct supervision of the Police Department, he is considered a member of the school faculty and, as such, works closely with the principal or assistant principal to determine the best course of action.
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School Resource Officer Program
The mission of the School Resource Officer Program is to develop a partnership between the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, the school district, and the community to prevent crime and delinquency and create a positive image of law enforcement officers in the mind of youth. This is achieved by placing experienced officers in the schools to serve as a resource for the school district, including students, administration, faculty, and the community at large.
The role of the SRO is broken down into a Triad model and the deputy/officer serves as a law enforcement officer, teacher, and counselor.
Law Enforcement Officer
The SRO assigned to the school is a law enforcement officer taking necessary action to uphold the law and provide safety and security for the district. The SRO also serves as a liaison between the school and the Sheriff’s Office, Town of Ellicott Police Department, or other law enforcement agencies.
The SRO serves as a positive role model for the students and this program provides students with the opportunity to become acquainted with a law enforcement officer. Generally, the public perspective of police officers and law enforcement tends to be media-based and inaccurate. Because of the contact with the SRO, students come to realize that law enforcement officers are human beings who have families, hobbies, and have experienced challenges in their lives.
Due to their law enforcement background, the SRO will be able to deliver a diverse law related curriculum to various age groups. There many opportunities for SROs to go into classrooms as guest speakers and contribute greatly. The SROs are only limited by their imagination and expertise. Beyond the typical social studies or law classes, SROs routinely speak in math, physical education, science and history classes on how they relate to law enforcement. In math an SRO might speak on how a deputy uses math to reconstruct an accident scene. Ina science class, the SRO may speak on how radar guns, Breathalyzers, or lasers are used. In physical education class, they may demonstrate the physical fitness standards for law enforcement or present a program on self-defense for female students.
Each day, law enforcement officers provide counseling to citizens in a variety of situations. Whether it is working with the victims of domestic violence, sexual assaults, family problems, or civil disputes, patrol officers counsel the parties involved and offer temporary solutions and referrals. The officers possess vast knowledge regarding the types of agencies available to assist people with a particular problem or situation. This knowledge is also important in the role of an SRO. SROs work closely with school counselors, nurses, and social workers on issues facing their students. An effective SRO will quickly build the trust of the students who will come to them with their problems. Many times these will be minor issues; however there will be instances that deal with pregnancy, abuse, sexual assault, rape, and other emotional issues. The mandate as a law enforcement officer may require not only action, but also appropriate levels of support and information. The relationships that are built between the SRO and students are also very important for the safety and security of the district. Many problems can be averted when students share information with the SRO. This may include such things as the SRO learning about a bomb threat that may be called in, a fight that is planned or even a threat to bring a weapon to the school.
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Upon assignment to a school, the SRO quickly becomes a resource for the whole community to take advantage. They become an informational resource for the school faculty on the issues of violence, drug abuse, and community services. They become informational resources to their law enforcement agency on juvenile crime trends and activities. Probation departments may enlist the aid of the SRO to monitor students who are under court supervision.
Ultimately, the SRO is a resource for the students. They offer young people unprecedented access to the legal system by giving students a realistic view of laws, why laws are enacted, what effect these laws have on them and why they should support them.
Regardless of all the stories in the media about school violence, there are other situations that we do not hear about. In many of these cases the SRO assigned to that school prevented the situation or intervened before it became a disaster.
The SRO concept is pro-active and is the ultimate example of community policing. The law enforcement officers work directly with the community protecting and tailoring their methods to meet the needs of those they serve. The SRO program is an enhancement to the school system, the law enforcement agency, and the community with the positive results clearly outweighing any possible drawbacks.