School policing experts talk about role of SRO

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- As the Oshkosh community tries to heal from the scary events that took place Tuesday, Action 2 News is learning more about a school resource officer's role in a school and in the aftermath of a crisis.

“There's one primary best practice, that is if you're an SRO, you need to be as well prepared as you can be to respond,” SAID Mo Canady, a retired school resource officer in Alabama.

He’s now the Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).

The non-profit organization is on track to train 10,000 SROs by the end of this year.

Canady says an SRO’s job is much different than being a police officer on the street.

“We're training them on things like understanding the adolescent brain, understanding special needs students, understanding school law as it applies in that environment you're now working in,” said Canady.

But when an attack happens at a school, he says it can have lasting impacts and an SRO’s role can take on one of a counselor.

“In the first violent situation I experienced in a school, I was not quite prepared for what the recovery would look like,” said Canady. “I thought we as SROs would be spending our day the next day trying to make sure the building is physically secure or making sure there was no retaliation; but we wound up being needed, more often than not, in the area where counseling services were being provided.”

Tuesday's incident in Oshkosh and Monday’s in Waukesha, have prompted area schools, including the Unified School District of De Pere, to reach out to families and offer support.

Administrators are also reminding people everyone has a role to play in school safety.

“The lesson from Waukesha is that students see and hear a lot of things that are of concern; and the quicker they report it, the more safe students and staff in our schools will be,” said Superintendent, Benjamin Villarruel.

Other schools that sent letters to parents include West De Pere, Green Bay Area Public School District, Ashwaubenon School District, and Howard-Suamico School District.

Villarruel says administrators had a conversation Tuesday and thought it was important for them to address safety measures being taken at their districts in the wake of two violent school incidents in two days in Wisconsin.

“The events these last few days sure are anxiety provoking for parents, students and staff. We expect and want our schools to be safe places for our children to come,” said Villarruel.