Appendix: Resources for Developing Operational Procedures for SRO Programs
The following documents are useful resources for school safety
- The United Kingdom report Mainstreaming Safer School
Partnerships is an excellent comprehensive source for planning a school
safety initiative. It provides detailed strategic planning guidance and program
development materials, including memoranda of understanding.48
- The COPS Office publication, A Guide to Developing,
Maintaining, and Succeeding with Your School Resource Officer Program,
provides an extensive list of operational areas and school responsibilities.49
The COPS Office publication, SRO Performance
Evaluation: A Guide to Getting Results provides a step-by-step guide to
help law enforcement and school personnel use SRO effectively, addressing many
of the issues discussed in this guide.50
- The COPS Office software program, School COP. See Guide
to Using School COP to Address Student Discipline Problems.51
School COP is designed to enable personnel to record and store detailed
information about incidents involving student misconduct and criminal
- The COPS Office publication, Guide 5: Fostering School-Law
Enforcement Partnerships of the Safe and Secure: Guides to Creating Safer
Schools, provides detailed operational guidelines for SRO programs. A
sample of this information follows.52
Whereas the memoranda of
understanding (MOU) is the interagency agreement establishing the
framework for the
schoollaw enforcement partnership, the standard operational procedures
for a SRO program are typically developed by the law enforcement agency that
employs the SRO with consultation from the school division. The procedures
should address a broad range of operational issues. Examples of key operational
areas and issues to be addressed in the procedures follows.
Conditions of employment and chain of command:
- Law enforcement agency has authority to hire, assign, and train
- Law enforcement agency provides salary and employment benefits
- SRO is employee of the law enforcement agency and follows agency
policies/procedures and chain of command
- SRO coordinates and communicates with principal/designee to which
- School leadership is given a voice in assignment of SRO to ensure
a "good fit" at the school.
Duty hours and uniform:
- Duty hours are consistent with agency policy.
- Arrival and departure times are established to provide coverage
throughout the school day including peak arrival and departure times. For
situations where a single SRO is shared by two or more schools, coordination
between schools is necessary to provide maximum coverage for each school.
- After-hour duties may be performed but must be remunerated by the
school or other sponsoring organization at a standard rate established by the
law enforcement agency.
- Time spent in court, attending interagency meetings, and
investigating school-related crimes are within the scope of SRO duties and are
considered duty hours.
- SRO shall wear a regulation uniform during the assignment unless
otherwise authorized for a specific purpose; the uniform is an important
element in providing a visible deterrence to crime.
- SRO shall meet at least weekly with the principal for purposes of
exchanging information about current crimes, problem areas, or other concerns
that may cause disruption in the school or community.
- SRO shall be advised of all investigations that involve students
from his/her assigned school and other police activities related to the school.
- The SRO supervisor shall meet at least once each semester with
the school principal. Upon request, the school shall provide information to the
department to assist in the personnel evaluation of the assigned SRO.
Police investigation and questioning:
- The SRO has authority to stop, question, interview, and take
police action without prior authorization of the principal.
- The investigation and questioning of students during school hours
and at school events shall be limited to situations where the investigation is
related to the school or where delay might result in danger to any person or
flight from the jurisdiction.
- The principal shall be notified as soon as practical of any
significant enforcement events.
- The SRO shall coordinate activities to be in the best interests
of the school and public safety.
- The arrest of a student or employee of the school with a warrant
or petition should be coordinated through the principal and accomplished after
school hours whenever practical.
- Persons whose presence on school grounds has been restricted or
forbidden or whose presence is in violation of the law shall be arrested for
- Arrest of students or staff during school hours or on school
grounds shall be reported to the principal as soon as practical.
Search and seizure:
- School officials may conduct searches of student property and
persons under their jurisdiction when reasonable suspicion exists that the
search will reveal evidence that the student has violated or is violating
either the law or the rules of the school.
- The standard for the search is reasonable suspicion.
- Any search by a law enforcement officer shall be based on probable
cause and, when required, a search warrant should be obtained.
- "Stop and frisk" will remain an option when there is reasonable
suspicion that a criminal offense has been committed or may be committed.
- The SRO shall not become involved in administrative
(school-related) searches unless specifically requested by the school to
provide security or protection, or for the handling of contraband.
- At no time shall the SRO request that an administrative search be
conducted for law enforcement purposes or have the administrator act as his/her
Release of student information:
State statutes also must be considered. Each agency group
interested in establishing this type of network will need to identify state
laws that govern the collection, use, and dissemination of juvenile records by
juvenile justice and other juvenile-related agencies. Specifically, these laws
will include but may not be limited to those governing law enforcement records,
school records (a state-level codification of FERPA), juvenile court records
(legal and social), child protective services and other youth-serving agency
records, and mental health records.