School Resource Officers: What Are They?

In light of the multiple school shootings that have taken place over the last twenty years, including those of Parkland and Sandy Hook, the Ridgewood Public School system has made major efforts to increase school security. One of the recent additions has been the presence of school police and resource officers. You may have seen these officers positioned behind the desk at the Little Theatre entrance, directing traffic during the hectic morning commute, or walking through the hallways. So who are these people, and why are they in school?  

A school resource officer is a career law-enforcement officer, not a security guard. They are usually armed unless school laws strictly prohibit weapons on campus. In Ridgewood, the officers do not carry, but they are prepared to defend the school, students, and staff in case of an emergency. The goal of school resource officers is to provide students and faculty with a safe learning environment.  

In a recent survey of twenty-two freshmen, almost half claimed that they feel less safe in school in light of the recent school violence. “Everyone always says it won’t happen until it does,” mentioned one freshman. Learning in a place that feels unsafe is extremely difficult, especially with the threat of extreme violence hanging over students’ heads.  

School resource officers are required to pass an (at least) 40-hour training that teaches them skills in the event of an active shooter, and have at least three years of street experience; it is not a job cut out for everyone. In the event of violence, officers are trained to put themselves in danger rather than jeopardize the safety of the students. Officers should also not have any previous incidents or complaints involving youth, as they should want to develop friendly relationships with the students in the school.

At Ridgewood High School, the officers frequently walk through the halls, cafeteria, and Learning Commons, waving and conversing with students. Talking with the officers helps students familiarize themselves with the otherwise intimidating strangers in the hallways. Mr. Reinke, the head of security of the Ridgewood Public School district, is often in the high school, walking down the hallways and greeting students.  

The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2018 that during the 2015-2016 school year, 42% of public schools had at least one school resource officer working for one day per week. Increased safety also comes in the form of the two blue pieces of tape on classroom walls, indicating where to hide during a lockdown so that students are not visible to an intruder looking through the door.  

Ridgewood has always been hyper-aware of student safety: some may recall in the 2017-2018 school year when there was an unidentified man outside of Willard School, and the entire district went on lockdown. The Ridgewood Public School district follows the motto “better safe than sorry”, and despite how frustrated teachers may be when a fire drill, lockdown, or modified lockdown interrupts class, Ridgewood ensures that its students feel safe throughout the school day, from kindergarten to senior year.


Grace McLaughlin
staff writer 

Graphics: Annie Probert

6 comments

  1. A concerned student.
    November 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    These people at the front desk are not school resource officers as you have falsely claimed, and are in fact just security guards.

    School resource officers are members of the police that are sworn in and are members of law enforcement. These people at the front desk are no less than regular security guards. They can not be classified as school resource officers which are defined as and act as police officers and are members of the Ridgewood Police department or a law enforcement organization. Security guards are private entities and are in NO way members of the police department or members of law enforcement.

    The people at the front desk of the school are in no way, shape or form affiliated with the Ridgewood Police, and do not have any badges or information detailing them as such, so I am unaware of how or where your false narrative has come from.

    Please check your facts and sources before writing an article like this that is completely based on a false pretense.

    I am very disappointed in the poor quality of journalism that has occurred here.

    Reply
    • It is true that a number of the security guards who operate at Ridgewood High School are privately contracted and not associated with the Ridgewood Police Department. However, there are still resource officers who are sworn RPD law enforcement, such as Officer Anthony Mormino, who you may see walking throughout the hallways or behind the front desk.

      -Ridgewood Editorial Staff

      Reply
      • I really appreciate the response and you have to understand the picture was extremely misleading as the people in the picture in the article were not school resource officers, however, the article was about school resource officers.

        Have a good day.

        Reply
    • Bro, you need to chill out. A student wrote this, not a professional reporter. Pointing out misleading information is one thing, but saying “I am very disappointed in the poor quality of journalism that has occurred here” is straight up mean, condescending, and annoying.

      Reply
      • Journalistic Integrity Matters
        November 25, 2018 at 9:40 pm

        Hey man, I agree the last line was over the top; there is a fine line between pointing out misinformation and becoming too condescending. However, you are the real condescending one. You are the one calling yourself a normal student as if to say that a student that challenges the article of a student newspaper is some sort of inferior student to yourself. Bro, I apologized for that last line. However, for you tell me that “a student wrote this not a professional reporter” makes no sense. Am I to expect misinformation from a student writer? Just because they are a student does that give them the right to not to research their facts and not to write in the most clear and concise way possible? I do not question the intellect of this student writer, and she easily could have done a little bit more research and written something that was not misleading. You seem to think otherwise, that somehow a student writer is incapable of doing research, as we in Ridgewood have been taught since elementary school. Fine, the student couldn’t do it, where are the editors? This is not an issue of myself overreacting as you have somehow portrayed it to be, quite the contrary. This is a question of when I log on to my chromebook and read an article on the high times, should I believe it or should I question the integrity of the article and the facts that are being presented? By saying that a student has the right to write a misleading article, you are arguing that the high times should not be trusted. You make an argument that although a professional reporter must publish true facts, a student reporter, no, they have a license to publish misleading or even false information because hey ho they are student. Your point stands contrary to the credibility of media, a fundamental cornerstone of our great country. Now that’s whack brovado 🙂 Sorry if I’m being “annoying” just defending good old journalistic integrity my friend 🙂

        Reply
      • Journalistic Integrity Matters
        November 25, 2018 at 9:53 pm

        Listen man.. I am really really sorry if anything I wrote comes off as rude. Just trying to have a legitimate discourse. I know I might be nitpicking, but it’s an important conversation to have.

        Reply

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