police protection at schools in light of the sniper attacks as well as the school shootings that have occurred over the years. The paper presents a study proposal and a critique of literature about the public's desire and willingness to support police protection being placed in elementary and middle schools on a daily basis. There were five sources used to complete this paper.
One of the things that Americans pride themselves on is the freedom that is afforded by living here. That freedom includes the refusal to become a police state or anything that represents a police state. Currently the nation is at a crossroads however, when it comes to the students in schools. For the last several years students have been shooting students, strangers have been shooting students and most recently the DC sniper has targeted students. Parents are becoming less and less sure of the school's abilities to protect their children where they are mandated by law to send them each day for an education. It is a catch 22 situation for many. They are told by the government that the children must attend, the children enjoy attending and learning and socializing but the increasing attacks on schools and students within the last few years have been raising concerns about the safety of their children. In light of the recent changes in violence within the schools there is merit for a study to assess the public's willingness to place police officers within the public school systems. Various high schools have safety resource officers throughout the nation but the school being in a high crime area, or the principal of a particular school requesting the officer usually precipitates the decision. Little has been researched on the national level of the public's willingness to support both morally and financially the concept of placing officers in every school in the nation including elementary and middle schools. This is a proposal for a study that will ascertain the public's willingness or hesitance to provide such a drastic measure to the nation's public school system.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is no secret that the government has already been funding money to provide school resource officers. The way the program works is that the grant provides for salaries and training for a three-year period after which time the local government is expected to foot the bill for the officer. Many cities have taken advantage of the program while others have shied away because of the expense they will incur when the initial three years is over. Another problem with the program is that thus far the officers have been primarily placed in high schools throughout the nation, and many of the stranger school shootings the nation has witnessed have occurred in middle schools and elementary schools (Schools, 2002).
The program has a solid foundation for existence and those who passed the bill to provide the funds believe that the program will help reduce violence of all types within the schools (Schools, 2002).
The Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has awarded over $540 million to more than 2,100 law enforcement agencies to fund the COPS in Schools program (Schools, 2002). "This program also helps to build respect and understanding between students and law enforcement officers," said Congresswoman Morella. "Community policing makes a positive difference in our communities (Schools, 2002). The COPS in Schools initiative simply extends this positive relationship to our schools (Schools, 2002)."
Those who use school resource officers are reporting success in the program. Parents throughout the nation have begun to display concern and fear over the administrations ability to protect their children while they are attending school. A study to ascertain the feasibility of providing officers at each school in the nation and mandating their presence through a federal law will assist the government in determining whether it is an idea worth pursuing.
An earlier study on the effectiveness of placing resource officers in schools was conducted using 8.889 incidents as the foundation for the study. The research used a survey method by which students and school staff were asked to answer a number of questions that were designed to assess the confidence level that they had in the school resource officer program since they obtained one (Gold, 2002). The survey was aimed at the role of 131 school resource officers who were placed in middle schools and high schools. The study concluded that the majority of students and administrative workers felt safer knowing there was a weapon officer within their schools (Gold, 2002). "Students and staff say, almost unanimously, that they are thankful the school resource officer is there," said John G. Schuiteman, the senior research and evaluation specialist who prepared the report (Gold, 2002). "You get [the officers] reporting that they feel accepted by the students and staff, and the students say they don't freak out anymore because a policeman is there. They know it's a positive thing (Gold, 2002)."
When New York City school boards voted to place officers in the schools and have the program overseen by the police department many parents protested and denounced the plan who said the schools would turn into army camps or police states within the schools (Williams, 1998).
We don't want our children in an environment reminiscent of an armed camp or police state (Williams, 1998). Our primary concern is safety and dignity for our children," said the Rev. Adolph Roberts of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Harlem (Williams, 1998). Amid shouts and boos from about 160 people, the board voted 7- 0 to allow the Police Department to hire, train and supervise the 3,300 peace officers who maintain security at public schools (Williams, 1998). "
These different reactions to the idea of school officers present a solid basis for a nationwide study on the topic of federally mandated officers within every school in the country.
The dual responsibility of today's school-based officer - equal parts mentor and SWAT-team leader - are reflected in the more than three dozen workshops coordinated by the 7,000-member National Association of School Resource Officers (Colavecchio, 2001)."
The nationwide increase in school violence has promoted many districts including St. Louis to implement a school officer policy (Williams, 1998). The program has been deemed successful but the financial budget each year has to predetermine whether the officers will be allowed to stay or be suddenly cut form the budgets. This study will gauge the public's willingness to fully fund the officers at the federal level of budgeting (Williams, 1998).
One of the barriers that will impede the purity of this study will be the timing of the study (Williams, 1998). If the study is conducted during relatively peaceful times the results may differ from conducting the study at the height of the DC sniper terror. The researchers must take care to present questions that will seek out the true logical beliefs and feelings of the public and not something based in fear, or a false sense of security.
The method that will be used for the purpose of this study will be a survey. The survey was chosen because it allows for the anonymous return of results thereby freeing the participants to be more open about their concerns. In addition the survey method was chosen because of its ability to reach a larger pool of participants and at an affordable cost. The third reason the survey method was chosen was the ability to offer online surveys to those who may not have time to use a pen and paper method and will not be comfortable speaking through an interview method. The survey provides the most well rounded and broad reaching ability for this study. It is an important factor to the study because it is going to question the national feeling about federally funding police officers in schools. It is important for the purity of the study that the pool include many participants, from many regions and many standards of living. To interview those participants would be extremely costly and the responses would be assessed and paraphrased by the research teams which in and of itself calls to question the purity of the results.
RESULTS AND DATA ANALYSIS
The results will be gathered when the surveys are retunred. There will be a three-month limit placed on when the surveys can be returned and there will be strict guidelines on what will be considered valid results. The surveys that are only partially answered will be removed and deemed invalid. The surveys that come in after the deadline will be deemed invalid. Out of the 10,0000 surveys and online surveys that are compiled there will be a random selection of 6,000 drawn from which to study the results. This allows for further control to insure the results are representative of the random population within the nation. The survey results will be divided n the following manner to ensure an equal representation. One third will be drawn from parents of school students, one…