School Resource Officer FAQ

 ​1. What is the SRO Program?

​​The School Resource Officer (SRO) program was adopted in the mid -1990s in Virginia Beach. The program is a partnership between the Virginia Beach Police Department and the Virginia Beach City Public Schools. SROs are a focal point of the overall comprehensive security plan in the school district. In Virginia Beach, approximately thirty officers are dedicated to the SRO program. SROs are assigned to each of the eleven-city public high schools, the thirteen middle schools, the Old Donation School which is the school for the intellectually gifted students (2ND – 8TH graders), and the Renaissance Academy, the school division's alternative education middle and high school.  Additionally, a SRO has been assigned to the Southeastern Cooperative Educational (SECEP) program, which is housed at the Renaissance Academy. SECEP operates programs for children with special needs. SROs are also assigned elementary feeder schools which they are responsible for and monitor, as well as, work with the schools' safety patrol program.

A key to the SRO program is to build relationships between the police officer and the stakeholders - administrators, faculty, staff, students, and their parents - at school.  Relationship building is the cornerstone of a model SRO program. Trust, relationships, and collaboration are the most important constants to a successful SRO program.

 2. What is an SRO?

​SROs are full time career law enforcement officers who are the primary law enforcement authority on the school's campus. SROs are not school employees but should be included as a very important member of the school's community.  In addition to the basic law enforcement training and the ongoing in-service training provided to all professional police officers, SROs are trained and certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to work in school settings.  SROs receive additional training specific to the requirements of the Virginia Beach Police Department in Crisis Intervention Team strategies and "Policing the Teen Brain" Training. Both training programs serve to support skills that emphasize and enhance communication, procedural justice, and de-escalation strategies. SROs are invested in providing mentorship and leadership to students while demonstrating community leadership qualities to the students, parents, and school staff they work with daily. As sworn and certified law enforcement officers they are tasked with the duty is to enforce and investigate violations of ordinances of the City of Virginia Beach and the Criminal and Traffic Codes of Virginia. SROs do not enforce school board policy or school rules; however, they do consult with school administrators when circumstances or behaviors crossover to a criminal violation.   

 3. Who are SROs?

​SROs are police officers who want to make our schools and communities safer while possessing a strong desire to work with students, parents, school administrators, faculty and staff daily.

 4. Why are SROs Needed in Schools?

​A school campus is a small diverse community comprised mostly of young adults working towards a secondary education.  Behaviors and situations that call for police intervention in the larger community also exist in the smaller school setting. The presence of a SRO emulates the strategies of the police officer in the community in creating a presence that promotes order, deters criminally prohibited behaviors, and promotes safety while providing unique opportunities to establish an experiential understanding of the police role in society in an academic setting and to build trusting relationships critical to supporting the role of professional policing in the Community. Police officers, in one form or another have supported the safety and order needs of educational institutions for many years, from assisting student staffed school safety patrols (originating in Chicago in 1920) as a means to promote traffic safety around schools, to "Officer Friendly" programs (originating in Chicago in 1966) to the conversion of college campus security programs to Campus Police Departments in Colleges and Universities (first occurring at Yale University in the 1800, but expanding significantly in the early 1970's following campus based protest associated with the Civil Rights Movements and the Vietnam War) to School Resource Officer Programs (originating in Flint Michigan in the 1950's and expanding significantly in the 1990's). While SROs are the primary law enforcement authority on campus and have the responsibility to investigate crimes and enforce the ordinances of the City of Virginia Beach and the Criminal and Traffic Codes of Virginia on their assigned school's campus, as well, as the elementary feeder schools which they are assigned.  SROs also support the educational objectives of the school, work to build a trusting and supportive relationships with students, parents, teachers, and staff, while providing subject matter expertise and services when needed, from the scope of responsibilities currently assigned to the police.    

SROs also serve as facilitators of the Virginia Rules Program, is Virginia's state-specific, law-related education program for middle and high school students. The purpose of Virginia Rules is to educate young Virginians (students) about Virginia laws and help them develop the skills needed to make sound decisions, avoid violations of laws, and to become productive, informed, and engaged citizens of their schools and communities.

 5. Where Do I Learn About the SRO Program?

​The SRO can provide necessary information concerning the School Resource Officer program. The Department of Criminal Justice Service is the state agency that provides training and certifies SROs in Virginia.  Please visit the following links to DCJS publications and learn more about the Virginia School Resource Officer program:

 6. When Will I Use an SRO?

​When a student, parent of a student, faculty or staff member, or an administrator is a victim, a witness, or learns of a crime, the SRO should be contacted, so the incident can be appropriately investigated. If a faculty member or an administrator would like to provide crime prevention information or information about the criminal justice system, the SRO can assist with the request. SROs should be able to provide information for a greater understanding of these issues to students, parents, and the school's staff.

SROs should also be utilized to as a mentor to speak with students who have certain concerns about incidents taking place in the school or community. SROs should be a trusted adult that students can turn to for such discussions and make themselves available accordingly. This is a good example of the importance for SROs to get involved in their schools, to meet as many students and staff members as possible, and to be approachable for all, including parents of students. Trust is an important part of relationship building, and relationships are one of the most important assets of being an effective SRO.

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