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Rochester School Board digs into the research behind school resource officers

Although RPS has used school resource officers for decades, the topic has been the source of more scrutiny in recent years.

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Monique Davis speaks to the Rochester School Board on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, about research into the use of school resource officers.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Although it reached out to find some research to possibly base its own practices on, Rochester Public Schools didn't necessarily find a lot of conclusive answers when it comes to the use of school resource officers.

On Tuesday, the Rochester School Board received an overview of the known research on the topic. Monique Davis, a Twin-Cities based doctoral candidate helped compile the literature for the school district.

"The very main point to take away is that the findings are mixed," Davis said. "There's not, unfortunately, a consensus in this research."

Although RPS has used school resource officers for decades, the topic has received more scrutiny in recent years due to the question of how the presence of law enforcement in schools affects students.

In June, the Rochester School Board approved a new contract with the Rochester Police Department after exhaustive conversations about the topic between the two organizations.

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During her presentation on Tuesday, Davis went on to say that while the research does show positive effects of SROs, it also shows negative effects as well.

Whether the effects of SROs were positive or negative, the research in the area was relatively outdated, she said.

"We want to be careful about how much we want to use these insights to inform the specific actions that you may want to take regarding this policy," Davis said.

Davis' presentation touched on issues ranging from perceptions of SROs compared to the actual effects of using them, their correlation or lack thereof to school shootings, and whether they contribute to students becoming more involved in the judicial system.

In addition to covering the research related to the use of SROs themselves, Davis reported that there is not a lot of information related to alternative systems.

Board member Jess Garcia said she appreciates the relative ambiguity of the findings.

"There's room for us to be creative here and do that radical reimagining that we talked about," Garcia said.

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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