Abstract: A Comparison Time Series Analysis of the Effects of Increasing Police in Schools (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

625 A Comparison Time Series Analysis of the Effects of Increasing Police in Schools

Friday, June 3, 2016
Pacific M (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Denise Gottfredson, PhD, Professor, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MD
Scott Crosse, PhD, Associate Director, Westat, Rockville, MD
Michele Harmon, PhD, Senior Study Director, Westat, Rockville, MD
Schools have adopted a number of approaches for increasing safety, including the use of controlled access to buildings, security cameras, metal detectors, and the placement of school resource officers (SROs). Using SROs — generally, sworn law enforcement officers — is a costly and widely used practice: the 2009-2010 School Survey on Crime and Safety estimated that 43 percent of public schools have at least one SRO present at least once a week. However, few rigorous studies have evaluated the effectiveness of SROs, including whether there are possible unintended consequences that may harm students, such as increased arrests for disorderly conduct (which might otherwise be handled by a school administrator) or exclusionary disciplinary practices (such as suspensions and expulsions) that disproportionately affect minority youth and youth with disabilities.

This study will compare data on 100 public middle and high schools in California and Florida that hired SROs through the Department of Justice’s 2013 and 2014 COPS Hiring Program (CHP) to data on 100 similar schools that did not receive COPS grants (or otherwise add SROs). Monthly disciplinary and arrest data will be collected for each school included in the study for approximately two years prior to and following the deployment of newly-funded SRO officers in the schools. The study will assess the extent to which changes in the measured outcomes corresponds with the addition of the new SROs. The goal of the three-year study is to determine the effects of an increase in SRO placement on schools, communities and students. Numerous outcomes will be measured, including the SRO approach (and “dose”) used, and how SRO effects vary both by student characteristics (including race and ethnicity) and by community and school characteristics. The researchers will also perform a validity study in 16 schools (approximately 200 students) to determine whether the reporting of disciplinary incidents is affected by the increased presence of SROs. The study’s findings have the potential to redefine the role of and the training requirements for SROs.  Information from this study will help communities to determine if the placement of SROs in their schools is warranted or if resources could be more profitably invested in alternative approaches. This presentation will describe the study and present data on the types of schools included in the study, the characteristics of SROs placed in these schools, and the typical SRO dosage made possible by the CHP grants to law enforcement agencies.