Examining the Use of Full-Time Police in Schools: How Roles and Training May Impact Responses to Misconduct
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The use of full-time police in schools has expanded considerably since their first entry in the 1950s. There is also a growing perception that the presence of police officers, coupled with arguably overly-punitive discipline practices, have resulted in negative outcomes for students. Arguably, the inherent role conflict (of enforcer and protector) that is ever-present in policing is further exacerbated in the school environment due to the conflicting cultures of law enforcement and education. The purpose of this study is to thoroughly examine how the roles and training of school-based officers impact their responses to student misconduct. Data was collected via an online survey distributed to a non-probability sample of commissioned law enforcement officers currently working in Texas schools. Follow-up qualitative interviews were also conducted with a sample of officers who completed the online survey. Data collected was used to assess the various roles officers have in the school setting, the training they received to support these roles, and their responses to student misconduct. This examination sheds light on the impact officers are having on school discipline in one state. Findings contribute to the national discussion of the so-called school-to-prison pipeline which refers to how school discipline may lead to formal criminal justice involvement.