School Resource Officers
A partnership among Norman Public Schools, the Norman Police Department (NPD) and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) is focused on enhancing safety and security for students and staff through the School Resource Officer program.
School Resource Officers (SRO) are sworn law enforcement officers who are charged with providing safety and security services in schools across the district and also are seen as confidants and mentors that students can turn to in times of need.
The SRO program and initial partnership with the City of Norman and NPD was approved in 2014 by voters. NPD provides SROs for the high schools and middle schools. In the 2023-2024 school year, through an increased partnership with CCSO, there are now SROs stationed at all 17 elementary schools.
Collaboration with NPD and CCSO provides the district with officers who have participated in enhanced training programs and bring a wealth of experience to their positions. In addition to traditional police training, officers have participated in national workshops for school resource officers and professional development focused on working with students who have special needs, cultural competency and youth mental health, to name a few areas of training.
In addition to helping keep our schools safe, SROs build relationships with those in their buildings, often serving as a mentor and support system for students. The district, police department and sheriff’s office worked together closely to clearly outline roles and responsibilities of each organization to ensure routine discipline issues continue to be addressed by school administrators, rather than by police officers. The groups agree that robust planning and training will help ensure best practices are in place for students’ safety.
What is the role of an SRO in Norman Public Schools?
- The primary function of an SRO is to ensure the safety of students and staff and provide campus security. This includes limiting access to school grounds, providing police protection to schools, investigating criminal acts that occur on school grounds and serving as a liaison between schools and law enforcement agencies.
- School principals retain authority regarding school issues, while SROs determine law enforcement issues and communicate any incidents with principals. SROs shall not enforce NPS regulations or rules unless the violation of such rule or regulation constitutes a violation of a state law or city ordinance.
- SROs participate in mandatory training set out by state law and/or NPD or CCSO policy. NPS also provides applicable training programs that directly impact their ability and skills as SROs.
- SROs should remain visible at the school and attempt to identify and counter any behavior that would be disruptive or unsafe. Additionally, they should be available as a resource to provide information on topics on which they have special competence due to their law enforcement training.
- SROs should provide guidance and direction for students, parents and staff when appropriate.
- SROs should build trust between themselves and students. Students should see SROs as approachable and supportive figures rather than solely as law enforcement.
- SROs should serve as mentors, providing guidance and support to students who might be facing challenges or difficult situations.