Resource Officers, School Administrators Get More Training 07-20-18

Resource Officers, School Administrators Get More Training

Margaret Reist, Lincoln Journal Star, July 20, 2018

Remember that debate about school resource officers a couple of months ago?

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemiester does, and as a result, both school resource officers and school administrators are getting more training.

“We want to ensure administrators and our SROs have a consistent message about the role of SROs,” Bliemiester said. “This is all part of an ongoing evolution to provide our officers and the administrators with what we believe is the most important roles the SROs will serve.”

To recap: Concerns about school safety after the school shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school led to an interlocal agreement between the city and Lincoln Public Schools that will, among other things, pay for six school resource officers for middle schools.

Proponents wanted more officers to help protect students. Opponents argued more officers in schools could result in more kids being funneled into the justice system, especially marginalized and minority students.

LPD has always offered training to the six school resource officers who have worked in LPS high schools, but in June, those officers and prospective school resource officers got an additional eight hours of training.

And police hope to get a $30,000 grant to help pay for additional training from an organization called Strategies for Youth.

The training — for both police and school administrators — teaches about adolescent brain development and offers strategies for interacting with students, including those with emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities.

It also will help delineate when officers should become involved and when situations should be handled by school administrators.

One of the concerns during debate on the interlocal agreement was incidents that should be handled through school disciplinary procedures were instead being given to police to handle.

The grant also would allow officers or school administrators to learn how to train others.

Sara Hoyle, the county’s human services administrator who is applying for the grant, said Omaha’s school resource officers have used the training and found it helpful.

Bliemiester said training will also focus on helping officers better understand the effect of trauma on students and how best to interact with those who have suffered trauma.

Preliminary work also is underway on a memorandum of understanding signed by city and school officials as part of the interlocal agreement.

The memorandum requires city and school officials to create an evaluation process to monitor whether there’s disparate treatment of minority students by police or school administrators.