Frequently Asked Questions
What is a school resource officer? A school resource officer, by federal definition, is a career law enforcement officer with sworn authority who is deployed by an employing police department or agency in a community-oriented policing assignment to work in collaboration with one or more schools. NASRO recommends that agencies select officers carefully for SRO assignments (see question below) and that officers received at least 40 hours of specialized training in school policing before being assigned.
Are school resource officers usually armed? Yes. A school resource officer is a commissioned, sworn law enforcement officer, not a “security guard.” NASRO recommends that all SROs be issued and carry all the same equipment they’d have on any other law enforcement assignment. NASRO is aware, however, that a few, local jurisdictions unfortunately prohibit their SROs carrying their firearms when on school campuses.
What are appropriate roles of school resource officers? The goals of well-founded SRO programs include providing safe learning environments in our nation’s schools, providing valuable resources to school staff members, fostering positive relationships with youth, developing strategies to resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students, so that they can reach their fullest potentials. 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.
How many school resource officers are there in the United States? Nobody knows how many SROs there are in the U.S., because SROs are not required to register with any national database, nor are police departments required to report how many of their officers work as SROs, nor are school systems required to report how many SROs they use. A 2007 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that there were more than 17,000 SROs deployed in public schools nationwide, but the DOJ has not repeated that question since. The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), estimates that between 14,000 and 20,000 SROs are currently in service nationwide, based on DOJ data and the number of SROs that NASRO has trained. A similar, but slightly different question is, “How many schools use SROs?” The most recent available data on that query comes from a 2018 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (a part of the U.S. Department of Education), based on a survey of public schools conducted in the spring of 2016. The Center reported that 42 percent of public schools reported that they had at least one SRO present at least one day a week during the 2015-2016 academic year. Because fewer private school than public school have SROs, NASRO estimates that approximately 20 percent of all U.S. K-12 schools (public and private) are served by school resource officers. However, many SROs serve more than one school and some schools have more than one officer. One therefore cannot reliably extrapolate the number of SROs from the percentage of schools in the 2014 survey.
What evidence exists that school resource officers are valuable? Researchers at Canada’s Carleton University conducted a two-year study of an SRO program in the Regional Municipality of Peel. In their 2018 report, they concluded that for every dollar invested in the program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created. The report lists numerous benefits of the program, including:
- Prevention or minimization of property damage in the school and surrounding areas.
- Prevention of student injuries and even death due to violence, drug overdoses, etc.
- Reduction of the need for schools to call 911.
- Reduction of the likelihood that a student will get a criminal record.
- Increase of the likelihood that students (particularly those with mental health issues) will get the help they need from the social service and health care systems.
- Increase in feelings of safety among students and staff.
Do school resource officers contribute to a school-to-prison pipeline? No. Carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers who follow NASRO’s best practices do not arrest students for disciplinary issues that would be handled by teachers and/or administrators if the SROs were not there. On the contrary, SROs help troubled students avoid involvement with the juvenile justice system. In fact, wide acceptance of NASRO best practices is one reason that the rates of juvenile arrests throughout the U.S. fell during a period when the proliferation of SROs increased (see To Protect and Educate: The School Resource Officer and the Prevention of Violence in Schools).
How should school resource officers respond to active shooter incidents? NASRO trains school resource officers to move directly to the threat, as quickly as possible and then to neutralize the threat to prevent further injury or loss of life.
How many school resource officers should a school have? NASRO recommends that every school have at least one carefully selected, specially trained school resource officer. Previous thought has been to place one SRO per 1,000 students. NASRO recommends considering factors such as campus size (including acreage and number of buildings), school climate and location, and the number of non-sworn safety team members on campus when determining the number of SROs needed on campus.
Should schools arm teachers, or others who are not law enforcement officers? NASRO strongly recommends that no firearms be on a school campus except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers, who are by definition (see above) active, sworn law enforcement officers. There are several reasons for this recommendation:
- Law enforcement officers who respond to an incident at a school could mistake for an assailant a teacher or any other armed person who is not in a uniform.
- Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant.
- Firearm skills degrade quickly, which is why most law enforcement agencies require their officers to practice on a shooting range frequently (as often as once per month), under simulated, high-stress conditions. Anyone without such frequent, ongoing practice will likely have difficulty using a firearm safely and effectively.
- In addition to maintaining marksmanship, ongoing firearms practice helps law enforcement officers overcome the physiological response to stress than can reduce the fine motor skills required to accurately fire a weapon.
- Anyone who possesses a firearm on campus must be able to keep it both ready for use and absolutely secure. Law enforcement officers receive training that enables them to overcome attempts to access their weapons.
- Discharging a firearm in a crowded school is an extremely risky action, with consequences that can include the wounding and/or death of innocent victims. Law enforcement officers receive training and practice in evaluating quickly the risks of firing. They hold their fire when the risks to others are too high.
Rather than arming school faculty or staff, NASRO recommends that sufficient federal, state and/or local funding be made available to place at least one carefully selected, specially trained school resource officer in every school in the nation. NASRO further recommends that large schools be provided more than one SRO.
How should school resource officers be selected? School police work is not for every law enforcement officer. Officers considered for the job should have at least three years of law enforcement experience. They should have a strong desire to develop positive relationships with youth on a daily basis. Their service records should contain no disciplinary actions or complaints involving youth. They should volunteer for the position; no officer who doesn’t desire an SRO position should be assigned.
How do I become a school resource officer? The first step in becoming a school resource officer is to become a sworn, career law enforcement officer. Typically, one becomes a law enforcement officer by applying to a law enforcement agency for employment and then completing the training that agency requires of its recruits. NASRO recommends that law enforcement officers gain at least three years of street experience and complete specialized SRO training before being assigned to SRO positions. See also the question above regarding how SROs should be selected.
Website/Member Services FAQs
- Can I register someone from our department under my login/account? No. Accounts/memberships follow each individual, therefore if you attempt to register someone under your login/account, you are actually registering yourself. Registrations are subject to a $25 transfer fee to transfer the registration to the appropriate person.
- How do I register myself or someone else for training? The person being registered must have a login/account in his or her own name. If the person already has a login/account, please skip to STEP TWO.
- STEP ONE: Create an account by going to the homepage and clicking “Join NASRO”. Complete each box and remember to write down your password. When you get to the bottom blue section, you will choose the type of account you are creating. If you want to just register for a class or conference, you will select “BASIC CONTACT,” and scroll to the bottom to enter the Captcha code, and click “Update & Check Details.” At this point, your account is created, and you are ready to register for a training.
- STEP TWO: If you are not already logged in (if you are not sure, look to the top right corner of your webpage to confirm), enter your e-mail address and password, and click “login.” (If you unable to login, please call 888.316.2776 to verify your password.) If you are registering for a class, hover your mouse over the “Training” tab in the blue ribbon, and select the Training Calendar from the drop down menu. You can search for your class by State, Type of Training, or Date. Click on the training that you would like to register for, and you will be navigated to the “Details” page. Then, click the blue “Register” button to register for this class, and follow the directions.
- Do I have to set up an account every time I want to take a class? No. Please do not create a new account. If you have ever trained with NASRO, you already have an account. If you cannot log in to your account, please call 888.316.2776 to verify information on your existing account. If you set up another account, it will cause issues with obtaining your certificates.
- How do I get a copy of my certificate if I attended a class? If you have attended a class, then you have a NASRO account. Once you are logged in, the first page will say “MY ACCOUNT” in gold letters on the left side of the page. Below that you will see a link for “My Certificates.” Click this link, and examine the chart of events you’ve attended. Complete the course survey (click on “Take Survey” to the right of the event), and after doing so, download your certificate.
- How do I get a copy of my Membership card? Membership cards can be found under your “My Account” page. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and select “Print membership card” in the blue box.
- Do I receive a free membership when I attend a class or conference? You will only receive a free membership if you paid the non-member rate for a class or conference or the early-bird conference rate.
- When will you have a class in my state? Classes are listed as they become available. Agencies that are interested in hosting a class in their area are invited to submit a host packet for approval. Once the class is approved, it is immediately posted on the website. Monitor the website for new class postings. If you are interested in hosting a class in your area, please contact NASRO Training Director Kerri Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Where are upcoming classes listed? Classes are listed under “Upcoming Events” on the home page. Due to the number of classes scheduled, a complete list of classes can be found on the Training Calendar under the Training tab.
- How many seats are left in the class before it is full? Seat availability and other needed information can be found on the specific class’s page, found under the Training Tab.
- Can I hold/reserve a spot in a class? No. Spots cannot be held. If you register yourself in order to “hold” a spot, you will be subject to a cancellation fee/transfer fee. If you really need to get someone registered in a class but do not currently know who that person will be, please keep an eye on the number of seats remaining. If the class is filling up quickly, contact our office at 888.316.2776 and we will make every effort to assist you.