SRO Program History
Historically, our schools have been relatively safe havens from violence and other social forces that affect our children’s sense of safety and security. However, in recent years, police agencies have had to assume a greater role in helping school officials ensure the safety of our students, as well as school faculty and staff members. Certainly, safety in our nation’s schools continues to be an issue of paramount importance. While the most recent national indicators of safety demonstrate that gains have been made in recent years (NCES, BJS, 2002) crime and security issues remain a substantial problem in New York State’s schools (YRBS, 2001). Violence, drugs, theft, bullying, sex abuse, suicidal ideation and/or attempts, and weapons remain a problem in many of New York’s school buildings, indicating that more remains to be done to make New York’s schools safer.
As the result of a U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services 2000 COPS in Schools grant, the New York State Police established a School Resource Officer (SRO) program that assigned 36 SROs to 62 school districts across New York State. In the first year, the overwhelming popularity of the program suggested that it was the premiere programmatic response to many safety issues surrounding New York’s schools. With the announcement from the COPS Office of another wave of potential SRO grantees, the New York State Police seized the opportunity to submit a second application for additional School Resource Officers. Upon being awarded the second grant (56 additional SROs), the NYSP was able to expand its SRO program to 92 SROs in 119 school districts across the State of New York.
According to Census 2000 data, the state has a total of 719 public school districts. Given that, the New York State Police have SROs in only 16.5% of the state’s school districts. The 2001 group of SROs was so small that many SROs were assigned to cover two to three school districts. Although this was considered better than no SRO, the additional SROs (2003) were able to relieve some of the doubling effort and provide a nearly one to one ratio (1.3). However, there are still multiple districts covered by only one SRO, and most districts have numerous buildings. The result of the 2002 grant for additional SROs was an even more successful program, based upon SRO activity data and anecdotal evidence from school staff and parents across the state. The response of the state’s schools to the program has been overwhelming.
However, in 2010, due to budgetary constraints, the New York State Police ended its’ School Resource Officer Program. A majority of the Troopers serving as SROs were assigned to a local station for patrol and continue to be a resource to the district they served. The School and Community Outreach Coordinators remain available for assistance to the school district and community at large.