National Association of School Resource Officers 2002 Survey

2002 National School Resource Officer Survey

National Association of School Resource Officers


The second largest professional industry survey of school-based officers  was conducted in July of 2002. The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), entered into agreement with Ken Trump of National School Safety and Security Services to design and implement the survey, and to produce the final survey report available below.

This was the first known survey of school-based police officers on terrorism and school safety related issues.  A total of 658 school resource officers returned the surveys which were administered and collected while they attended NASRO’s annual convention in Palm Springs in July of 2002. A full report, including the full executive summary and a detailed section with individual question responses and graphics, may bedownloaded from the link toward the end of this page.

Key Overall Survey Findings

An overwhelming majority (95%) of school-based police officers feel that their schools are vulnerable to a terrorist attack and a substantial percentage of officers (79%) do not feel that schools within their districts are adequately prepared to respond to a terrorism attack upon their schools.

 The majority of School Resource Officers reported that significant gaps exist in their schools’ security, that their school crisis plans are inadequate, and that their school crisis plans are either untested or inadequately tested and exercised.

School-based officers have received limited training and minimal support from outside agencies (local, state and federal) in preparing for a terrorist attack upon their schools.  The vast majority of SROs also reported that their in-house school security personnel, school administrators, teachers, and support staff have received no terrorism-specific training. Additionally, SROs reported decreasing opportunities for their overall training, especially since 9/11, with many limitations attributed to a lack of funding.

Coincidentally, the survey release on October 7th coincided with an October 4th Washington Times story citing U.S. intelligence agency reports which indicate that Islamic terrorists are targeting American schools from elementary to university levels for attack.

“The most critical lesson learned from 9/11 is that training and preparedness saves lives. Our federal and state governments must partner more closely with local school districts and their school police officers in order to have truly comprehensive homeland security planning,” stressed Curtis Lavarello, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), as he released the survey results.

“While our national education policy is to leave no child behind, the survey suggests that the vast majority of our nation’s schools are indeed being left behind in homeland security preparedness,” said Kenneth Trump, the school safety consultant who designed the survey and authored its report. “Schools, like other public institutions, must be armed with awareness and preparedness, and they do so by planning, preparing, and practicing for emergency situations,” Trump added.

Lavarello and Trump said direct threats to kill American children and to target terrorist attacks on schools have been attributed to al-Qaeda in multiple news reports since 9/11, noting that terrorist attacks in the Middle East have long included attacks on schools and school buses. A history of such tactics, combined with reported threats, serve as warning to U.S. leaders that schools must be included in homeland security discussions which to date have largely focused only on national infrastructure areas such as transportation, utilities, and financial systems, they said.

Highlight of Specific Survey Findings

95% of school-based officers described their schools as vulnerable to a terrorist attack.  32% of those survey respondents described their schools as “very vulnerable” while an additional 63% characterized their schools as “somewhat vulnerable.”  Only 5% felt that their schools were either not vulnerable or were already prepared for a terrorist attack.

79% of the school officers stated that their schools are not adequately prepared to respond to a terrorist attack.

Only 22% of the surveyed school resource officers described themselves as “very prepared” as a first-responder to a terrorist attack upon their school.  55% of the officers reported that they have not received terrorism-specific training related to their roles as school-based officers.

Officers reported that of those schools having in-house school security personnel, 82% of these (non-police) security personnel had not received any terrorism-specific training.  77% of the respondents also reported that teachers, administrators, and support staff in their schools have not received terrorism-specific training.

68% of school-based officers believe that student use of cell phones in school would detract from school safety in a crisis and another 10% believe they would have neither a positive or negative influence.  81% of school resource officers indicated that their schools continue to not allow students to use cell phones in school.

55% of the respondents felt that their schools’ crisis plans were not adequate.  52% of the school resource officers reported that these crisis plans have never been tested and exercised, and in those schools where plans have been tested, the amount and/or type of testing has not been adequate, according to 62% of the respondents.

55% of school resource officers said that their schools do not have mail handling procedures for dealing with anthrax scares and other suspicious packages.

96% of the surveyed school officers described gaining access to their outside schools grounds during school hours as either very easy (74%) or somewhat easy (22%).  83% of the officers described gaining access to inside their school as very easy (37%) or somewhat easy (46%).

Almost 40% said their schools have not had a formal professional security assessment conducted in the past five years.

66% of the school-based officers were not able to attend training even though they had a demonstrated need and 75% of the officers indicated that they have not been able to attend needed training due to a lack of funding. Almost one-third reported that their opportunity to attend specialized training has decreased since 9/11.

74% of school officers reported that their schools do not educate parents, and communicate effectively with parents, on school safety, security, and crisis planning issues.

89% of school-based officers believe that crimes occurring on school campuses nationwide are underreported to the police, while 91% believe that the presence of a police officer on campus improves the accuracy of school crime reporting.

Download Full Report

Click on the links to our web pages for details on each of the annual SRO surveys:

2004 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2003 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2002 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2001 School Resource Officer Survey Report

To download a copy of any of the four annual SRO surveys conducted by NSSSS, click on the survey report file link below.  You must have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.

2004 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2003 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2002 School Resource Officer Survey Report

2001 School Resource Officer Survey Report