A Comparison: School Resource Officer & Campus Officer
When I started interviewing a school resource officer and a campus officer, I thought that their jobs would be very similar in the fact that their sole purpose was to deter crime and violence in the respective school setting. For the most part, they do the same types of things every day, but the other aspects that make up their jobs are much different. Today, we are going to see how a school resource officer and a campus officer are used in different capacities in their schools.
First I want to clarify that a school resource officer is used in k-12 settings and that a campus officer is utilized in higher education. Both are typically employed by a local law enforcement agency and both also hold jurisdictions outside of their school.
I started by talking with Cpl. Jeff Trick from the Carver County Sheriff’s Office. He works as a school resource officer (SRO) and explained that he loves coming to work every day because he likes to work with kids and appreciates that there is always a new challenge to face. He added that as an SRO, he works hard to provide a positive view of law enforcement to the youth that he encounters and that he likes helping them deal with bigger problems in their lives.
When Todd Badham, Director of Security for the University of Puget Sound, was asked the same question, he answered that he enjoyed working in higher education and values that he can serve his community in a variety of ways by accomplishing a safe environment both on campus and in the community surrounding it.
Both Cpl. Trick and Mr. Badham spend a large portion of their day interacting with students and staff and work tirelessly to educate students on safety and security. Cpl. Trick works very closely with his school to train for emergencies and plan for crisis situations. Mr. Badham works to create a safety presence on campus that allows for security but also an open and welcoming campus.
Another difference that I found between the positions was how the different schools utilized their law enforcement presence. Cpl. Trick told me that about half of his job is emergency and crisis planning as well as training and interacting with students to provide education on safety. Mr. Badham explained that his university utilizes him as a way to engage in the community and allow for an open campus while still providing a high level of safety and security.
Both agree that having a visible law enforcement presence makes a difference in aiding in the security aspect but Mr. Badham explained that his was much more involved. At the University of Puget Sound, they have a live call center that runs 24/7 to answer calls and dispatch officers. School resource officers are often only at the school a little before students arrive and a little after they leave. This is significant in the role that these two officers play in the environment.
The campus officer works much more as a law enforcement officer would in a typical community, whereas the SRO works more as a liaison and an educator. Both serve vital roles in different ways and both make a positive difference in their respective school settings.