Colorado school resource officers are part teacher, part counselor, part cop — and part prison guard
Students of color, critics say, are being arrested for misbehavior once handled by school administrators and counselors, thanks largely to an increased police presence in schools. Colorado state Rep. Leslie Herod points to a 2016 report by Padres y Jovenos Unidos that said in Colorado, after a decade of steady reductions, the statewide school suspension rate grew by 19 percent during the 2014-15 school year. During that same period, there were 3.5 times more suspensions of black students than white students.
“Safety policies in schools that embrace more police will transform our school campuses to prison-like facilities and funnel more students of color into the criminal justice system,” Herod said.
Others say SROs are actually a calming presence in schools and keep troubled kids out of jail or prison. Schools must make sure they have the right person for the job, experts say.