Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Best Of Heather's Corner: Oro Valley Participation in the School Resource Officer Program and a Pleased Parent

This is a reprint of an article that appeared originally on September 8, 2015
As a first time around parent of a kindergartner, I am happy to say that I am finally navigating the pick-up and drop-off debacle with ease. Also as a parent new to the public school system I was pleasantly surprised but taken back by the presence of uniformed police officers on campus. It turns out the School Resource Officer Program is not new to Oro Valley and has a standing history since the town's inception in 1977.

Instantly I thought to myself, after unfortunate school events in the news for over a decade or longer, how great it was to have the increased safety of an officer on campus. But it turns out, they actually provide a multitude of services. Oro Valley's Resource Program (SRO) Unit is "designed upon the 'Basic Triad Concept' of being a law enforcement officer, teacher and counselor to the school community." So with law enforcement comes working closely with school staff and counselors, interacting personally with students as role models, and teaching classes on drug awareness, bullying, and stranger awareness to the younger children, and drinking laws and date rape awareness to our highschoolers.

Unfortunately not all schools nationwide are able to participate in such programs. According to one 2011 study, "Public Perceptions of School Resource Officer Programs," local police departments and sheriffs' offices currently employ an estimated 20,000 full-time school resource officers but "budget reductions have led to cutbacks in many school resource officer programs." And these positions are not without some parental opposition and debate.

Some studies indicate that unnecessary arrests have been made by SRO's that should have been through school disciplinary channels and not have escalated to juvenile courts. Others feel that this increased safety can be experienced by all schools if the emphasis is taken away from SRO programs and more effort is put into creating a safe environment through school related programs. Finally a third area of concern is cost of these programs. Those favoring the program say all costs justify the presence and safety provided by SRO's and those programs for public schools with tough budget cuts are then usually covered by the local law enforcement agency. Those opposing costs say for example, "that for the price of one school resource officer, most districts could hire one teacher and have money left over."

My son adores his school's resource officer, Officer Sara Buchanan-Leiner, and is sure to say good morning to her each day as she welcomes the children and directs parent drop-off traffic. My personal opinion is that I am grateful for Oro Valley's SRO program and feel just a little bit safer leaving my 5 year old out in the big world without me. Wondering what your thoughts are on Oro Valley's SRO Unit? Please share.

(Sources: Oro Valley Web Site,Wikipedia)
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley for 7 years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She loves gardening, nature, art, and travel. Currently her two young children fill up most of her days (and nights) with chaotic bliss. Oro Valley favorites: memorial bench at the entrance of Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park, Toscana Studio and Gallery, OV Fall Festival, the gumption and determination of OV residents!

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