Do School Resource Officers ask about immigration status and work with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)?
School Resource Officers won’t ask about the immigration or citizenship status of a student, except where consular notification is required by law for the protection of the individual. Per Kirkland Police Policy (Lexipol 411.4), it is the policy of the Kirkland Police Department that all members make personal and professional commitments to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public. Confidence in this commitment will increase the effectiveness of this department in protecting and serving the entire community and recognizing the dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.
Are School Resource Officers involved in school discipline?
No, School Resource Officers are not involved in school discipline. School discipline is the internal discipline model used at school by school staff (detention, suspension, expulsion). Formal school discipline situations are handled by school administrators within the school environment. SROs do not function as a school disciplinarian, but they will conduct law enforcement investigations concerning situations that are beyond the scope of school administrators to handle, such as violent criminal allegations and child abuse/neglect allegations.
Are school staff members or School Resource Officers allowed to search students?
A school principal, vice principal, or principal's designee may search a student, the student's possessions, and the student's locker, if the principal, vice principal, or principal's designee has reasonable grounds to suspect that the search will yield evidence of the student's violation of the law or school rules. A search is mandatory if there are reasonable grounds to suspect a student has illegally possessed a firearm in violation of RCW 9.41.280.
Per RCW 28A.600.210, the Washington State Legislature finds that illegal drug activity and weapons in schools threaten the safety and welfare of school children and pose a severe threat to the state educational system. School officials need authority to maintain order and discipline in schools and to protect students from exposure to illegal drugs, weapons, and contraband.
School Resource Officers are bound by all 4th amendment search and seizure laws that apply to other police officers. School Resource Officers may be asked to assist school administration in an administratively justified search. They may be the “principal’s designee” as noted above based on their knowledge and experience, along with knowledge on safe handling of contraband or possible weapons.
When would School Resource Officers use force?
Use of force is when a police officer uses physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents, or weapons on another person, as well as a show of force, such as displaying a firearm and/or taser, in order to gain compliance or overcome resistance. The Kirkland Police Department Policy Manual states: “Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation an officer might encounter, officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident” [Kirkland Police Policy - Lexipol 300].
A juvenile under 14 years of age should not be restrained unless they are suspected of a dangerous felony or when the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the juvenile may resist, attempt escape, injure him/herself, injure the officer or damage property. School Resource Officers should only use restraints on a student while at school or a school-related activity when there is an imminent likelihood of serious harm and pursuant to the school policy for students and staff (RCW 28A.600.485).