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The Roles and Activities of School Resource Officers: A Multi-Informant Mixed Methods Analysis

Sat, Nov 17, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, A702, Atrium Level


School resource officers (SROs) are increasingly common in schools nationwide. Although their roles are frequently described using the "triad model" of law enforcement officer, educator, and informal counselor, extant research suggests that SROs are involved in a wide variety of tasks that vary considerably between schools. Moreover, the differences in SROs' roles has been linked to different crime and behavior outcomes in schools. The current study describes and organizes some of that variability through an in-depth study of SROs' activities in two school districts. This study makes use of interviews, focus groups, surveys, and observations from a wide variety of stakeholders. Findings indicate that SROs frequently engage in activities that are readily classified within the triad model, but that they also are involved in many activities that either blur the lines between their roles as articulated in the triad model or fall outside it entirely. Moreover, this study's findings point to meaningful differences in SROs' activities that may be attributed to both individual and contextual variables. This study's findings complicate traditional understandings of SROs' roles and suggest the need for a more nuanced understanding of SROs' roles when assessing their impacts on students and schools.