Failures in Hiring, Training and Supervision of SROs Lead to Government Liabilities

I recently wrote a piece on the school board meeting in Brevard County in Florida. Why Are School Boards Putting More Guns In Schools? One of the speakers, Connie Rookie, a military law enforcement vet, sent me a copy of this article from the National Association of School Resource Officers, NASRO. “Arming School Personnel, School Safety Reform and Liability. from 2015.

I’ve contacted the author, Professor Bernard James to do a follow-up on legal liabilities issues in the state of Florida.

He also has a School Safety Law Blog  and a list of his articles on Legal Updates at NASRO  I specifically want to point out the piece, “Government Liability and the failure to train? I’m especially interested to see if this 2009 study referenced was updated.

“None of the SROs interviewed in a 2009 study  “received[d] training in mediation, basic de-escalation techniques, or in detecting symptoms and behaviors of youths who have been exposed to violence, trauma, or abuse” and “rarely had any formal knowledge of, or training in, adolescent psychology or development, how to secure the respect and cooperation of youths, or on the behavioral precautions and protections that need to be taken with youths [who have] Individual Education Plans (IEPS) “As a result, SROs may not be properly equipped for their varied responsibilities.”

Many states are looking to hire more SROs quickly, I believe they will want to know what to expect from a well-trained SROs, as well as what liabilities they face if they put people in place without appropriate training.

I’m not a lawyer, but the other comment from that article that struck me was this one:

” A single act by the SRO can lead to government liability without the student victim establishing a pattern of any kind.” 

The school board and town hall meetings that I have watched have not addressed the potential for government liability coming from “shortcomings in hiring,training and supervision of SROs.” Many are under the impression that SROs are exempt from liability claims and/or the law enforcement insurance will cover any claims.  I think it is important to alert the school districts and communities to these issues.

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