In the aftermath of school shootings, policymakers presented the expansion of school resource officers (SROs) in the nation's schools as a method for keeping students safe. Recently, policing in the United States has come under increased scrutiny, and several school districts across the country cancelled their SRO contracts with law enforcement agencies. Notably, these contradictory decisions have been made with limited empirical knowledge surrounding, the roles, preparedness, and impact of SROs. A county in Florida substantially expanded its SRO program in the 2016-17 school year creating a new unit within the local sheriff's office and an opportunity to investigate these topics. A convergent parallel mixed methods design was applied to examine this new unit, consisting of a quantitative strand using interrupted time series analysis to assess the new program's effect on school-based arrests and Baker Act apprehensions, and a qualitative strand collecting and analyzing participant observations of training requirements and in-depth interviews with the SROs to explore their responsibilities, roles, and preparation for the position. Qualitative findings demonstrate that the primary role of the SROs is safety and security, while some also engage in a secondary role of engaging in positive interactions with the school community. Ambiguity exists surrounding execution of these roles, with the SROs relying a great deal on other relevant actors during decision-making. SROs identified the importance of careful selection for the position, training requirements are described, and problems with the training are identified. Contrary to this study's hypotheses, quantitative results show that the new unit did not have a statistically significant impact on overall school-based arrests, but disaggregating the data showed a significant impact on felony arrests. Similarly, there was no statistically significant impact on overall Baker Act apprehensions of students, however, there is preliminary evidence of an impact on elementary school-aged students.
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Fisher, Kristina Childs
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Soderstrom, Melanie, "The Expansion of School Resource Officers in a Florida County: A Mixed Methods Study" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1294.