Implementation of police in schools not a good idea

A School Resource Officer bonds with students at his assigned elementary school.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

A School Resource Officer bonds with students at his assigned elementary school.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Three of the most well-known school shootings have occurred at these schools in the last 25 years. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, there have been over 250 school shootings in the United States. Each year, that number increases, which has warranted the question: should armed police officers be present on school campuses? 

America has experienced an alarming number of school shootings in the 21st century. In fact, on average, there is around one school shooting every week. Contrastingly, fellow developed countries such as Canada and Germany typically experience only one or two every year. 

While Canada has strict gun control laws to enhance its population’s safety and well-being, the American public is divided on the issue, so gun control laws have been difficult to pass. As a result, other solutions such as the implementation of police officers in schools have been proposed. The logic behind placing officers in school buildings is that they can help decrease the number of typical, relatively minor infractions such as skipping class and they can also fight back in the rare instance of a school shooting. 

While school shootings may seem unlikely and hard for students and school faculty to imagine, even Montgomery County had a school shooting at Magruder on Jan. 21. In fact, Maryland has experienced 47 school shootings in just the first five months of 20222. It is always critical for school systems to be prepared and stay ahead of the potentially deadly threat, but armed police officers are far from the optimal solution to the issue.

Most obviously, there is a possibility that an officer’s gun accidentally misfires, which is statistically more probable than a school shooting, especially in an affluent community such as that of Wootton or even the entire Montgomery County as a whole. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich seemed to agree when he decided to remove School Resource Officers from school buildings in 2021. 

Schools are also meant to be an academic environment where students feel safe, which can be difficult to achieve for some students if police officers with guns are always present. According to the University of Florida, the presence of SROs has resulted in more student suspensions, which further disturbs the calm, academic environment in schools.

Instead of implementing in-school police officers, school systems can opt to follow in the D.C. Public Schools system’s footsteps and install metal detectors at each school’s entrance. However, an even more effective alternative is convincing local representatives to enact stricter gun control laws because states with stricter gun control laws tend to have fewer school shootings.