Policing Education: An Empirical Review of the Challenges and Impact of the Work of School Police Officers

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Public concerns regarding school safety and zero-tolerance education policies have contributed to the growth of a workforce of school police, or frontline school safety professionals who are typically placed in schools with the authority to arrest students (Brown, 2006). Thus, school police represent a workforce positioned at the nexus of multiple systems, including education and juvenile justice, and whose work likely brings them into contact with underserved youth and families. Despite national representation of this growing workforce (e.g., National Association of School Resource Officers), little is known about the responsibilities, roles, training, and influence of school police. This manuscript aims to (a) advance understanding of the school police workforce, including in relation to school police training, needs, roles, and influence, through a systematic review of scholarship in the social sciences, with a focus on peer-reviewed research in education, psychology, social work, criminology, and juvenile justice; and (b) generate empirically supported recommendations integrating key conclusions that pertain specifically to targeting the challenges faced by the school police workforce and identifying the best strategies to enhance safety-related goals while mitigating disproportionate legal and educational consequences for underserved youth and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-269
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Education
  • Juvenile justice
  • Policy
  • School police officers
  • School resource officers
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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