Florida Public Employees
Republished: February 5, 2014
Is a Miami-Dade Schools P.D. SRO Job Dangerous?
You would be surprised at how some aspects of school policing have changed over the last three decades and how some have remained the same. Some of our veteran police officers recall the days M-DSPD police officers had to bring their personal vehicles to work and use them as their patrol cars. Can you imagine a police officer pulling you over in a beaten-up, bright yellow 1978 Toyota Celica GT? Others recall in the 80′s how their patrol vehicles were missing floorboards and how the vehicles stalled constantly, almost as if they had to place their feet on the cement and push their cars a la Fred Flintstone!
Even at that time, these police officers faced the same dangers we see today. M-DSPD is full of documented shooting incidents that stretch back as far as our memories can go. Knives have threatened us, guns have been pointed at us, we have been shot at over the years and not one M-DSPD police officer has died in the line of duty from a subject’s actions even though many have been injured, some seriously. Many of our F.O.P.members attribute this to our extensive training and sheer luck!
Through it all, these fine men and women have had one common goal in mind; to protect and serve and to keep our children, staff, parents, and surrounding communities safe.
That will never change.
Miami-Dade Schools Police Officers Work 24/7
The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department is a 24 hour service. While our daytime school resource officers (SROs) handle tons of calls and carry out their many functions to ensure kids and staff members have a safe learning environment, our afternoon and midnight crews also handle a vast variety of calls for service during night school and off-school hours.
Here’s what school resource officers (SROs) typically do during the day:
- During their assigned school’s ingress, you can find our SROs patrolling the streets or parked alongside their school monitoring traffic and issuing moving and parking violation citations.
- After school ingress, the police officer usually catches up on reports and other pertinent paperwork which need to be turned in to their sergeants.
- The officers make their rounds, communicating with school administrators and employees. This accomplishes two things; it gives the staff a sense of protection and allows school administration to bring up any concerning issues or cases requiring attention.
- When the police officer leaves the school, M-DSPD does its best to assign another SRO temporarily until that officer returns. Our police officers routinely leave the school to; handle calls for service at other schools or other M-DCPS-owned property, to transport an adult or juvenile arrestee, to attend juvenile or adult court, to attend court depositions, to file paperwork at their respective police stations, to fill their patrol vehicles with fuel, to back up police officers from other agencies, and to handle follow-up calls at residences away from the school, among other duties!
- During lunch time, the SRO in a high school tries to be visible in the cafeteria and surrounding areas as a means of protection and violence prevention. SROs are aware children are more likely to engage in fights during lunch time or after school than any other time frame. They also keep an eye out for possible drug activity during this high traffic time.
- On a typical day, an SRO may write from 1 to 5 or sometimes even 7 reports! This is due in large part to the exceptional liability the district faces when dealing with juveniles and parents and the large amount of cases on any given day, depending on the school assigned. Their investigations need to be thorough and their police reports need to be as detailed as possible.
- They regularly counsel children and their families and make a huge positive difference in many of their lives through their care and compassion.
- They conduct a variety of presentations for students including the latest “My Life, My Power” which concentrates on anti-bullying and youth development.
- During their shift, officers routinely respond to emergencies at other schools with lights and sirens, risking their lives while trying to get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible within department guidelines.
- During school egress, our officers go back into “traffic” mode and they place special emphasis on maintaining awareness regarding possible fights in and around our schools. Trespassers tend to flock to schools at this time to wreak havoc or possibly sell drugs and through their knowledge and experience, SROs promptly address those issues which oftentimes result in arrests.
- They mentor disadvantaged youths through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
How Dangerous Is an SRO’s Job?
It goes without saying; anyone who puts on a a police uniform with a badge and gun in their holster has a dangerous job. The SRO’s job is no exception!
In fact, the SRO’s job in some parts of Miami-Dade county is more dangerous than many municipal police agency jobs due to many weapons cases and constant shootings in and around some school areas. Furthermore, the afternoon and midnight crews have one of the most dangerous jobs in Miami-Dade County as they respond to numerous burglar alarm calls on a nightly basis. These officers have arrested hundreds of subjects over the last decade, some of them armed with knives and/or firearms.
Unlike some school police agencies in the U.S. whose officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty, the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department is fortunate to have never lost an officer to gunfire.
Some of the most dangerous calls SROs potentially face on any given day while protecting our schools are:
1. Weapons on school grounds. Our SROs have removed 22 firearms from students so far this 2013-2014 school year and dozens of knives. On quite a few occasions, officers have struggled and fought with armed subjects in order to subdue and place them in custody, sometimes in the presence of many students. They have also handled quite a few shootings in and around schools over the last several years.
2. Conducting traffic stops. This is one of the most dangerous police calls that have resulted in a high level of police officer deaths nationwide and here’s something to remember; many motorists passing through school areas are NOT parents and occasionally, school police arrest adults and juveniles alike with lengthy felonious criminal records.
3. Responding to emergencies. School police officers constantly respond to emergency calls with lights and sirens, risking their lives each time. These are highly dangerous calls that have resulted in an inordinate number of police officer deaths in the U.S. For example, in 2010, traffic accidents were the leading cause of police officer deaths nationwide. Every now and then, a school police officer is forced to engage in a high speed vehicle pursuit of subjects who have committed serious felonies in M-Dade County Public Schools jurisdictions.
4. Disturbances in and around schools. Whether it’s a street fight, a heated child custody case or an unruly parent causing a disturbance at the front desk, school police officers routinely handle these types of volatile calls.
5. Backing up other police departments during emergencies. Oftentimes, M-DSPD police officers are the first ones to arrive on a scene involving a homicide, a domestic dispute, a serious traffic accident with injuries, a fight in progress, and even a bank robbery! School police officers sometimes back up other police agencies involved in high speed pursuits.
With All This “Dangerous” Talk, Is My Child Safe In School?
While no one can guarantee the safety of anyone, you can rest assured there are qualified and highly-trained school police officers in and around or near your child’s school area. The F.O.P. believes Miami-Dade County public schools are as safe as humanly possible due to combined efforts of the district and our command staff and more importantly, because of the efforts and willingness of our police officers to put their lives on the line for our students, staff members, parents, and communities every day.
Without a doubt, the presence of our school police officers on campuses will always prevent many crimes from occurring in and around our school areas, thus greatly enhancing the safety of our children.
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