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School Resource Officer

WHEREAS, in the 2015-16 school year, Black students were 15% of the school population nationwide but were 31% of the students referred to law enforcement or arrested; and

WHEREAS, in 28 states, the share of arrested students who are black is at least 10 percentage points higher than their share of enrollment. In 10 of those states, that gap is at least 20 percentage points; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of these arrests are for relatively minor issues such as misbehavior, arguments or theft. For example, in Fairfax County, VA, in 2016 there were 75 arrests for disorderly conduct, 29 for trespassing, and 23 for grand larceny; and in Prince William County, Virginia, a 14-year-old boy was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and petty larceny in the Fall of 2017 after the School Resource Officer (SRO) accused him of stealing a carton of milk. The boy, who qualified for free lunches, said he had gone back to the cafeteria cooler to get the milk after he forgot to pick one up when he first went through the serving line; and

WHEREAS, school shootings such as the February 2018 one occurring in Parkland, FL, have intensified calls from parents for more SROs, but not an equivalent amount transparency, accountability, and clear definition of their duties; and

WHEREAS, only 12 states require specialized training for SROs, according to a 2015 study by the American Institutes for Research; and

WHEREAS, many of our children aren't afforded the appropriate support needed to overcome the challenges posed by poverty. Analysis of the 2013-14 civil rights data by the U.S. Department of Education found that 1.6 million students attended schools with police presence but with no school counselors and that these students were more likely to be Hispanic or Black; and

WHEREAS, many school districts allow SROs to switch from being law enforcement officers to administrators. This intentionally ambiguous policy allows officers to conduct activities such as searches and seizures, stop and frisk, or interrogations as administrators that would otherwise be prohibited as officers, and then use evidence collected to instigate criminal proceedings, potentially creates constitutional violations that the average child would not be aware of or have the wherewithal to defend against; and

WHEREAS, most SRO policies do not empower parents to intervene on their children's behalf to protect against self-incrimination or unwarranted searches. Much more needs to be done to ensure that parents know what SROs are doing on a regular basis; and parents certainly deserve the right to intervene prior to their children being questioned in relation to an alleged crime.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all NAACP units advocate to their local school boards that the primary responsibility of educating the children must reside with the teachers and the principals in the school and in the school system; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that local NAACP units advocate to the local school board that the primary disciplinary responsibility for the students, where needed, must reside with the teachers and principal in the school and the school system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP urges all school districts with SROs to narrow the scope of responsibilities of SROs to only intervene in potentially life-threatening situations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a standard SRO policy and procedure manual describing SRO's duties and that distinguishes them from those of school administrators is developed for nationwide use and that the SRO's duties are included with the student code of conduct and the disciplinary matrix; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP advocates for an annual report of data, aggregated by race, gender, and type of offense, that includes all student offenses and actions charged by SROs to be released and monitored, to ensure the safety of all students in said school; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NAACP units will use this annual report along with the data from the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights Data Collections to educate communities about racial disparities in school based arrests and will advocate to local school districts, state legislators, courts, and local law enforcement agencies to eliminate racial disparities in school-based arrests; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for legislation or other appropriate action that prohibits SROs from engaging in racial profiling and 'stop and frisk' policies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for legislation or other appropriate action to mandate that all SROs must have specific yearly training in child development, de-escalation techniques, mental and physical limitations and trauma, and recognizing and addressing implicit bias; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP will advocate for SRO policies to empower parents or the responsible adult for the child to intervene on the child's behalf before the child is questioned or legally detained.