NewsOlathe East Shooting


History of school resource officers

Olathe East Shooting.jpg
Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 19:20:39-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School policing first began in 1950.

And shortly after the mass school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, funding increased and more schools began utilizing resource officers.

In the Kansas City metro, security in schools has been at the forefront of discussion since the shooting at Olathe East that involved two staff members and a student.

While some question if schools should implement metal detectors, others say the incident highlights the need for SROs.

John Douglas, former director of emergency services for Shawnee Mission School District, said the officers provide a layer of security.

“That’s why they’re there,” Douglas said. “To protect the kids.”

But even with school resources officers, safety isn’t guaranteed.

A 2021 study from Brown University’s Institute for School Reform collected national school data from 2014-2018 and shows resources officers have decreased the number of fights and physical attacks in schools.

However, the study found no evidence SROs helped decrease the number of school shootings.

Some organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union, have opposed the use of SROs, citing unfair treatment among Black students and students who have disabilities.

The study points out schools with SROs have increased suspensions, expulsions and referrals to law enforcement.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows Black students and those with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the disciplinary measures.

As discussions continue about how to keep kids safe at school, Douglas said school safety can begin at home.

“In a society where we are free and open and guns are available, there is no way to absolutely guarantee a student will not bring a gun to school, “ Douglas said. “Everyone is responsible to limit that. Parents, if they have weapons, need to lock them up and secure them.”

Additionally, Douglas suggests if a student appears to be struggling or there’s any indication the student could become violent, that information should be reported.

“Children who know these kids have got to step forward and tell us," Douglas said. “They seem to be doing a good job with that, much better than they did with Columbine. So, that's one of the safety features.”