Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Jeremy N. Phillips, Ph.D., MPA

Committee Member

Kristen B. Crossney, Ph.D.


This study begins with an examination of current scholarly literature surrounding School Resource Officers (SROs) and the SRO triad. The SRO triad is the foundation defining that SROs operate as law enforcement, informal mentor/counselor, and law-related teacher. The first research question examined how SROs view their positions within their organizations and how they identify themselves within the triad. The hypothesis that SROs most strongly associate with the mentor/counselor prong of their position was supported. A hierarchical cluster analysis was also performed to group SROs into clusters based on frequency of job-related behaviors, rather than mere self-selection into prongs. The cluster analysis revealed two distinct clusters of SRO behaviors with SROs in Cluster 1 reporting significantly more likelihood of feeding students, donating necessities to students, and sparking interest in law enforcement than Cluster 2. A second research question focused on how SROs respond to incidents of misbehaviors and crime within schools in Pennsylvania. A regression analysis predicting likelihood of diverting students from the justice system from SRO behavior indices suggested the number of teaching tasks was a stronger, more positive predictor of diversion than mentoring or law enforcement tasks. In addition, the survey revealed that, despite having the power to arrest, SROs most often opt for a much less intrusive intervention, and prefer, with few exceptions, to refer an incident to school administrators for discipline. Significance of this research highlights the positive attributes of School Resource Officers, and should be taken into consideration when resources are considered for introduction to schools.