In Washington State, School Resource Officers (SRO’s) are considered officers of the law. SRO’s abide by the same policies and hold the same rights as any other police officer in Washington State. SRO’s and police outside of school have the same authority. This is different for each state. Washington is one of the few states that consider SRO’s as officers of the law.
SRO’s in Washington State have the right to:
- Arrest you given they have probable cause you have committed a crime. If you are arrested, you have the right to ask to speak to a lawyer prior to answering any questions.
- Physically restrain you if you are being arrested or you pose serious threat to others or school property. You should not be handcuffed as a form of regular school discipline.
- Given that they are considered officers of the law, any encounter with them is parallel to an encounter with a police officer outside of school.
You have the right to:
- Resist a search of your property if the officer does not have a warrant, it isn’t an emergency, and you haven’t consented to one. You cannot be punished for resisting a search. This is different for school lockers- they are considered the schools property and can be searched within the school’s discretion.
- Remain silent if you are being questioned. If you are not sure if you are being questioned or do not want to talk to an officer, ask “Am I free to leave?”. If you are free to leave, it is not a questioning. If you are not free to leave and you wish to remain silent, say “I want to remain silent” and “I wish to speak to a lawyer” if you wish to do so.
- Make complaints about the behavior of the officer. If the officer physically assaults you, curses at you, touches you inappropriately or makes inappropriate comments, makes negative comments about your race, religion, gender, accent, national origin or sexual orientation, or acts inappropriately in other ways, you can report to your school administration or local police. Before doing this, record the officers Badge Number and Name as identification.