School Resource Officers in Virginia schools provide a wide array of services. Although their duties can vary considerably from community to community. While they take on the roles of Safety Expert, Law Enforcer and Liason to the community, the three most typical roles of SROs are:
- Investigate accusations of criminal activities per their department’s policies and procedures.
- Enforce state and local laws and ordinances.
- Make referrals as needed to juvenile authorities or other local legal agencies.
SRO’s are able to contribute to the school campus’ safety by:
- Ensuring school administrator safety by being present during school searches, which may involve weapons controlled dangerous substances or in such cases that, the student’s emotional state may present a risk to the administrator.
- Assisting school administrators in emergency crisis planning and building security matters.
Many resource officers have received specialized SRO training to not only be an agent of law enforcement in the school, but also a teacher and informal counselor. Those three roles are the basis are a solid approach to promoting a positive image of law enforcement and also maintaining a safe learning environment for children on the school campus. In addition, Virginia school resource officers may play the role of social workers, mentors or peer mediators. It takes a special set of character traits and sometimes patience, to fulfill those roles in a school environment, but that is often what school resource officers enjoy about their jobs.
In the school campus setting, creative problem solving involves a coordinated effort among administrators, teachers, students, parents, mental health professionals, and other community participants. Virginia SROs commonly assist in resolving problems that may not necessarily be law violations, such as bullying or just disorderly behavior, but which are nevertheless possible safety issues that could result in or contribute to criminal circumstances. By helping in the resolution of these problems, the officer frequently acts as a resource liaison, referring students to necessary professional services in both the school (such as a guidance counselor or a social worker) and in the community (youth, family service or religious organizations). Specifically, SROs many times build relationships with juvenile justice counselors, who are responsible for supervising delinquent or troubled youths, connecting them with services they need, and occasionally recommending diversionary activities.