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Policing in schools: Debate follows Texas elementary school shooting

How do local schools prepare for violence?
APTOPIX Texas School Shooting
Posted at 4:15 PM, May 26, 2022

BALTIMORE, Md. — Safety is a major issue when it comes to schools in the United States.

While most schools are staffed with school resource officers, Johns Hopkins school safety experts are cautioning against adding more school resource officers.

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas without being confronted and shot and killed 19 children, along with two teachers.

“Actually tends to heighten the rates of arrest and referral for students,” said Dr. Odis Johnson, Jr., the Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Center of Safe & Healthy Schools. “Again, the time they spend not stopping a shooter is often spent criminalizing what is otherwise normative child and adolescent development.”

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Research suggests the more police presence, the lower the test scores, and gun-related injuries and deaths in schools now have reached unprecedented heights.

MORE: Officials explain how gunman entered Texas classroom, killing 19 students, 2 teachers

In Harford County, the sheriff’s office is committed to school resource officers.

In fact, it has 17 of them and three command staff members all with a single mission.

“Our SROs are a part of the community,” said Col. William Davis. “Our SROs are not in schools to enforce laws, necessarily. They’re not in schools to enforce school rules or to be detention monitors or things like that. They’re there to help the administrators and to help the students when there are issues going on that need to involve law enforcement.”

School resource officers also serve as the first line of defense, but researchers suggest they shouldn’t be the only tool for stopping shooters bent on destruction.

“Some schools need school resource officers. I am not one who suggests we should get rid of them all,” Johnson said. “I’m suggesting that there has to be a comprehensive policy approach that doesn’t rely on law enforcement to do everything. It clearing wasn’t the answer in Uvalde, and it can’t be the answer going forward.”