In the wake of the terrible tragedy next door in Sandy Hook, there has been a lot of discussion about having a law enforcement officer in each school.
In most parts of the country, having a police officer in the school is called a School Resource Officer or SRO. A SRO is a law enforcement officer who has been assigned to a school. The main purpose is to protect and serve the school community... to provide a safe and secure campus for the children, teachers and adminstrators. This often includes the building, the parking lot and the school grounds.
Abbott Tech, in Danbury, (being a state school) had a uniformed, armed State Trooper at the entrance to the school for years and a State Police car parked prominently in the front of the school. Many areas of the country have had SROs serving their schools for years, even decades now.
Besides the protection and law enforcement duties, the SROs become a liaison between the police department and the school community. In some communities, they function in the role of ombudsman to create a positive impression of the police force. Depending upon the community's wishes, some SROs (especially if there is more than one officer in a large school) spend time giving safety instruction, counseling students and being a mentor and role model to the students. A well trained SRO, who was well liked and trusted by the students, could have a significant impact on behavior and especially alcohol and drug behavior.
What a SRO is NOT is a school disciplinarian. If a school incident is a possible law enforcement violation, the SRO can be contacted to determine if law enforcement action is appropriate. An SRO does not do things like lunchroom or hall duty.
Unfortunately, America is not the country that we grew up in. Andy Griffith, of Mayberry, USA, and Barney, his 'trusted' deputy with the one bullet in his shirt pocket... is a lovely memory of how we used to live. In light of the reality of the country that we have become, we need to strongly consider having an armed, uniformed police officer in each of our schools.