As campus security concerns have changed over time across the country, so, too, has the response from education safety officials, including an increased reliance on school resource officers and police. As the number of officers in schools continues to rise, experts on both sides of the issue are still debating whether the increased police presence is improving campus security.
For now, there’s a lack of strong data one way or the other, and most people in the education safety industry will admit that they just don’t know for sure. What they do know is that the number of officers is up: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the share of schools with a school resource officer increased from 1 percent in 1975 to 40 percent in 2007. As of 2014, there were 31,000 school resource officers employed in public schools nationwide.
More research is under way about the effectiveness of having resource officers and police on campuses. Proponents say the officers protect students, act as mentors, parental figures and psychologists, and improve community relations with police.