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COMMUNITY VOICES: School resource officers and your child’s safety

Parents who send their children to a public school trust school officials to maintain the safety of their children during school hours. School officials are expected to take every necessary means to ensure the safety of children on a school campus.

School resource officers have been utilized at our local schools the past few years. An SRO is a sworn law enforcement officer where the school becomes the officer's patrol. The SRO assists the school administration in maintaining a safe and secure environment. School administrators benefit from the SRO's training, knowledge and experience in handling situations. The SRO provides a highly visible presence to deter or identify trespassers on campus.

A report by the U.S. Department of Justice says SROs "may have a profound impact on the school’s ability to prevent targeted violence and other maladaptive behaviors.” The report includes school-based law enforcement as part of the department's 10 essential recommendations for the "physical and emotional safety" of schools.

SROs make schools safer and can be effective in community policing. Youth can develop a good communication with SROs and learn that SROs are “the good guys.” This helps to build a positive relationship and outlook concerning law enforcement officers.

SROs also serve as law related educators, emergency managers and informal counselors. SROs have contact with a majority of students in a school. SROs can serve as a resource for educators when they are invited into the classroom as guest speakers. A classroom presentation by an SRO gives the SRO opportunity to interact with students and discuss law-related issues. This can serve as a positive learning experience. This is designed to provide the student a better understanding of how the legal system works and also to promote good citizenship.

Those who oppose SROs may need to revisit their reasons against SROs for the few good ones stated in this article. Law abiding citizens, especially parents with children who attend our public schools, welcome SROs knowing these sworn officers serve as a positive role model to our youth. We also appreciate school officials who put in place these SROs as an act of good faith to keep our schools and children safe.

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David Vivas Jr. is the pastor at World Harvest International Church in Delano.