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Law enforcement executive and principal perspectives on school safety measures: School resource officers and armed school employees

Margaret M. Chrusciel (Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA)
Scott Wolfe (Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA)
J. Andrew Hansen (Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA)
Jeff J Rojek (Department of Criminal Justice, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA)
Robert Kaminski (Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 16 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the perspectives of law enforcement executives and public school principals regarding school resource officers (SROs), armed teachers, and armed school administrators in order to inform the policy discussion surrounding school safety issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilizes data collected from two surveys that were sent to law enforcement executives and public school principals in South Carolina. Respondents were asked about their experience with SROs and their perspectives on these officers’ ability to maintain school safety. Both groups of respondents were also asked about their attitudes regarding arming school employees.

Findings

There is a large amount of support for SROs from both law enforcement executives and principals. However, in general, both groups of respondents do not believe armed administrators or armed teachers to be an effective school safety strategy.

Originality/value

SROs have been the primary strategy adopted by schools to maintain safety, but in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, public outcry and political debate has spawned a number of proposed alternatives. Among these alternative security measures has been the idea of arming school teachers and/or administrators. However, there appears to have been little effort to empirically consider the perspectives of those directly impacted by school safety policy decisions. In particular, a gap in the literature remains regarding the perceptions of police executives and school principals concerning school safety policies and how the attitudes of these key actors compare. Thus, the current study addresses this gap by exploring the perspectives of key school safety stakeholders.

Keywords

Citation

Chrusciel, M.M., Wolfe, S., Hansen, J.A., Rojek, J.J. and Kaminski, R. (2015), "Law enforcement executive and principal perspectives on school safety measures: School resource officers and armed school employees", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 24-39. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-11-2014-0115

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited