2003 National School-Based
Law Enforcement Survey:
School Safety Threats Persist, Funding Decreasing National Association of School Resource Officers
The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) entered into agreement with National School Safety and Security Services for independent professional services for the development, administration, and analysis of NASRO’s third annual professional industry survey of school-based police officers. Surveys were independently administered by the staff of National School Safety and Security Services, tallied by Scantron Corporation, and the results analyzed and reported by Kenneth S. Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services, an independent, non-product affiliated national school safety consulting firm.
The 20-question survey instrument was developed in May of 2003 and administered to attendees of the 13th Annual NASRO Conference held in Orlando, Florida, on June 29 – July 4, 2003. 1,100 surveys were distributed to conference attendees upon their registration. A total of 728 surveys were tallied by Scantron Corporation, representing a return rate of approximately 66%. Whereas every respondent did not answer every question, the total number of respondents for each question will be shown with the chart for each question.
NASRO conferences provide the largest single yearly gathering of SROs and offer the greatest cross-section of officers with representatives from each of the 50 United States. The results from surveys administered at NASRO conferences represent the largest known bodies of data derived from school-based police officers in the world, with the 2003 survey representing the largest return (total of 728) of the three annual surveys conducted to date.
“The results of this survey clearly indicate that we are operating in a ‘lets just wait and see’ mode as it relates to preparing our schools for potential terrorism,” said Curt Lavarello, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), as he released the results of the 2003 National School-Based Law Enforcement Survey.
“With over three quarters of the surveyed School Resource Officers saying that schools are not prepared to respond to a terrorist act and school safety budgets are still being cut, our government is clearly gambling with the lives of American school children,” said Sean Burke, President of NASRO and a Massachusetts-based police sergeant.
“The nation’s school police officers are telling public officials that school safety threats are real, the gaps in preparedness are significant, and the resources for protecting our children are decreasing at a time they are increasing elsewhere to protect monuments, bridges, and government offices,” said Kenneth S. Trump, a national school security expert and President of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, the independent consulting firm contracted to conduct the NASRO survey.
Trump stated that while he spent hours in Cleveland’s electric power blackout the week prior to the survey release, he listened as political officials pointed fingers and called the blackout a wake-up call. “Now is the time for federal and state officials to wake up on homeland security for our nation’s schools, not after a crisis occurs that could have been prevented,” Trump remarked.
A full report, including the full executive summary and a detailed section with individual question responses and graphics, may be downloaded from the link toward the end of this page.
Key Overall Findings
Significant findings from this survey include:
School safety threats continue to persist from both within, and outside of, our nation’s schools.
Over 90% of the survey respondents believe that schools are “soft targets” for potential terrorist attacks.
Over 70% of the officers reported that aggressive behavior in elementary school children has increased in their districts in the past five years
School-based police officers reported that significant gaps continue to exist in their schools’ emergency preparedness planning and, in training for terrorism and other crisis situations.
Over 76% of the officers feel that their schools are not adequately prepared to respond to a terrorist attack upon their schools.
Over 51% of the respondents’ schools do not have specific, formal guidelines to follow when there is a change in the national homeland security color code/federal terrorism warning system.
Over 55% of the respondents said that their school crisis plans are not adequate.
Over 62% of survey respondents reported that their school crisis plans have not been adequately exercised (tabletop exercises, full scale drills, etc.).
Over 71% of the respondents report that their schools’ teachers, administrators, in-house (civilian, non-school police) security personnel, and support staff have not received terrorism-specific training.
Almost 47% of the school-based officers themselves have not received any terrorism-specific training related to their role as a school-based police officer.
Over 64% of the school officers believe that student use of cell phones in schools during a crisis would decrease school safety. Almost 17% believe that student use of cell phones would have no impact on school safety.
Crimes occurring on school campuses nationwide are underreported to law enforcement and the current federal No Child Left Behind Act requirement for states to define “persistently dangerous” schools will lead to further underreporting of school crime. The vast majority of respondents also believe that Congress should enact a federal mandatory K-12 school crime reporting law.
Over 87% of school-based police officers reported that the numbers of crimes that occur on school campuses nationwide are underreported to police.
Over 61% of survey respondents believe that school administrators faced with their schools possibly being labeled as “persistently dangerous” will result in decreased school crime reporting.
Over 88% of respondents believe the Congress should enact a federal law requiring mandatory, consistent school crime reporting for K-12 schools nationwide.
A significant percentage of School Resource Officers reported budget cuts for school safety funding in their local school districts, inadequacies in federal school safety funding, and the need for an “Education Homeland Security Act” to fund school terrorism training, improve security and crisis planning, and support SRO programs.
Over 41% of school-based police officers report that funding for school safety in their schools is decreasing.
Over 85% of the survey respondents believe that the U.S. Department of Education’s 2004 proposed budget cut of 35% ($50 million) for state funding of the Safe and Drug Free Schools program will contribute to schools being less safe.
Almost 64% of the respondents believe that the U.S. Department of Education’s recently announced $38 million in emergency planning grants (to be awarded to an estimated total of 150 local education agencies) is inadequate.
95% of the survey respondents believe that a Congressional “Education Homeland Security Act” to fund SRO and school staff terrorism training, improve security and crisis planning, and support SRO staffing would make schools more safe.
Download Full Report
Click on the links to our web pages for details on each of the annual SRO surveys:
To download a copy of any of the four annual SRO surveys conducted by NSSSS, click on the survey report file link below. You must have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.