Students document positive relationships with their school safety officers

School resource officers (SROs) are required by South Carolina law in all middle and high schools. But the recent viral video of an officer at Spring Valley High School forcibly removing a 16-year-old student has raised serious questions about the relationship between students, SROs and other law enforcement officials in schools.

Last year, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs produced stories about school safety in a signature series, The New Safe. Here are three videos that highlight very different relationships between officers and their student population.

South Carolina SRO Dave Prescott, previously of York Comprehensive High School, makes sure not only to be involved in the lives of his students, but to be available as a friend. Serving for nine years, Prescott loves his job, and though he already has one daughter at the school, he feels like a father to everyone and vows to protect them like his own.

Produced by Blake Adams, Jacob Boone, Damon Heath, Matthew Haynes and Grace Reynolds of York Comprehensive High School.

In Protecting Students, a story by Manor High School, the school’s security means more than its new equipment and policies. It involves the students, administrators, and the team of officers from the Travis County sheriff department and the unprotected officers that the school hired from a private security company. The emphasis is on building a relationship with the students in order to open communication and quickly respond to threats.

Produced by Henry Arzate, Michael Braxton, Miguel Cano, Karla Cornelio, D’Juan Crittenden, Emma Dominguez, Luisa Garcia, Fernando Hernandez, Kimberly Hernandez, Joi McBrayer, Karen Reyes, Carolina Ricario, Marielos Sarmiento and Autumn Syfret of Manor High School.

In the spring of 2014, Cedar Crest High School student Matthew Garret reported to the school’s resource officer a suspicious conversation he heard at his school’s cafeteria. Matthew’s trust in the school’s resource officer prevented a school shooting tragedy.

Produced by Unagh Frank, Tim Sensenig and Nick Weiss of Cedar Crest High School.

To learn more about SROs’ relationships with their schools, read PBS NewsHour’s article on school resource officer Justin Schlottman where he discusses how to build a safe school environment.