While employed by Mesa Public Schools I worked at an alternative high school as substitute teacher for an extended period of time. I gained experience in disciplinary tactics that are used for students who are not so easy to discipline. The security guard was a school resource officer and was employed by the Mesa Police Department. He wore a police uniform and he wielded a gun while on duty. He was one of the most exemplary standards of security that I have ever seen in a high school.
On a certain occasion (of many) I needed to call security. The student acted unruly, was disruptive towards others, and completely non-responsive towards my requests. I called our resource officer who entered the classroom, and with a stern face he eyed the students. He asked which one it was which was being disruptive. The culprit raised his hand, with his face buried in the desk.
The guard came over, and asked, “Jared! (Naturally he knew the child by name, which I have changed) What seems to be the problem?” The student shook his head, and responded, “I’m supposed to do this work sheet.” Jared showed him the assignment with his face still buried in the desk.
The police officer than looked at the seat and said, “Well, let’s take a look at the assignment together, I bet if we put our heads together, we can get it done.” The student looked up, delighted that he was not being arrested. He lifted his head up from off of the desk and regarded the officer. They worked quietly together for about twenty minutes. After the assignment had been completed, the officer had a word with Jared about his conduct, and left. The student did not misbehave the rest of the day.
The police officer demonstrated similar behavior to other students. I admired him because he understood the students that he protected, and in return the students respected him. He is a man of high moral character, which helped him to be a good guard; however, his character alone did not make him a good officer. He was trained to work with children, and had years of experience which had prepared him to work with those who come from populations that struggle academically and in society.
I do not believe eliminating school resource officers from schools is the solution to eliminating student-teacher conflicts. The solution is two-fold, setting expectations at a school-level so that students and teachers understand and know protocol for misbehavior, and training police officers to work with children, especially those of different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Police need to know when it is appropriate to metaphorically take off their police officer’s hat, and to be a mentor.