A University of Florida team of psychology and education researchers has received a $1 million federal grant to pilot-test novel training methods designed to advance the skills and effectiveness of school resource officers in mediating school crimes and student violence and promoting a strong sense of community among students and school staff.
The three-year pilot project, funded by the National Institute of Justice, is scheduled to launch in January in Miami-Dade County public schools, the nation’s fourth largest school district. The researchers, though, say they are optimistic of favorable results in the pilot trial for scaling up to statewide and nationwide rollouts of their research-based approach for coaching school resource officers.
The researchers say that over the three-year trial period, the project will improve the practices of at least 140 school officers policing Miami-Dade schools, who in turn will positively impact the learning and safety of more than 133,000 students.
“School resource officers in Miami-Dade public schools have had extensive training in school safety, and this grant will only complement their work by providing high-quality professional development in areas that will promote positive relations among school officers, students and staff,” said UF psychology professor Dorothy Espelage, principal investigator of the project.