When Should an SRO Arrest a Student?

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — The summer of 2022 saw pressure nationwide to ensure that public schools are assigned School Resource Officers.

Now, some SRO’s are facing criticism over leaked footage of physical interactions with students in the Tennessee Valley.

News 12 sat down with Rossville Middle School SRO Bruce Coker to learn more about the training received by school resource officers.

“We have special training for the SRO’s. We have to attend school resource officer training and be certified, because there’s a whole new set of laws
dealing with school age children,” said Coker.

In Coker’s experience, arresting students is rare.

But an arrest should be performed if a student is committing a crime.

“For instance, if they have brought something into the school that could be harmful to other students, such as drugs… But thankfully I don’t have that
happen very often. Most of the time we’re dealing with things that can be handled by way of school policy. But there are several things that we can’t
tolerate, and that’s violence and the threats brought into the school that could be harmful to others,” said Coker.

One of the most useful tools in an SRO’s pocket is simply opening a dialogue with students, a dialogue built on preexisting relationships.

“You got to get to the root of what they’re upset about, and you get to talking about what they’re upset about. And usually you can get them to open up
and tell you what’s eating at them. And once they see that there’s a comfort level there, they usually have less problems with them talking to you in
the future,” said Coker.

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