They are called school resource officers, or SROs. Its an appropriate, non-intimidating name for those law enforcement personnel who are stationed at all Wake County high schools and most middle schools. Now, in an effort to make the duties clear and to respond to a federal complaint that students behavioral problems were being unnecessarily criminalized, the Wake County school board has put a reasonable set of guidelines in place.
The officers will be trained in working with students with disabilities and on administering discipline in a non-discriminatory way. They will refer simple student discipline matters to a schools principal. There will be steps required before a students misbehavior moves from on-campus discipline to the court system.
The overwhelming majority of parents like having the officers on campuses. School shootings in recent years have made school officials everywhere more aware of the need to have more protection. And the officers can be a good influence on students and a presence that deters bad behavior.
It is necessary on occasion for officers to take strong action in a case where a student is breaking the law or being violent. The officers ought to have the freedom to do their law enforcement duty as well as stand their posts at a school. Most officers have done very well in determining what actions to take in the myriad disciplinary challenges on a given campus.
The new guidelines, necessarily about three times as long as the old ones, should clarify boundaries and duties while at the same time making it clear that schools intend law officers to be more than hall monitors. Unfortunately, schools can occasionally become dangerous, and officers are needed to provide a higher level of protection.