Proposal would refine definition of school resource officers

LA VISTA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nebraska lawmakers want to make sure school resource officers aren't stepping over the line. LB 390 would require officers to stick to the role of keeping people safe and enforcing the law and to not get involved in disciplining students.

6 News visited La Vista Middle School Thursday. They just entered into their second year with a school resource officer. They made it clear that they don't have a position on the bill. Their role in this report is to simply show what their resource officer provides to the school.

Officer Jamie Brown can often be found speaking with students at the school.

“I'm another resource here to help kids, build relationships, develop tools to make good choices," she said.

LB 390, introduced by Senator Pansing Brooks, would force school districts wanting law enforcement in their classrooms and halls to enter into an agreement with their resource officers. The goal is to clearly define the officer's role in keeping people safe and enforcing the law, not disciplining students.

“I can be a counselor some days, I can be an authoritarian that has to address negative behavior. There's so many different hats that I can wear in the school. At the bottom of the pile is the officer that's writing tickets and arresting juveniles."

The bill would also require school officials and resource officers to be trained in areas of students' rights, diversity awareness, and de-escalation to name a few of the requirements.

Dr. Jen Carson is the principal of La Vista Middle School. She says the role the resource officer plays is often misunderstood.

“I think people might misconstrue what her role is day to day. She's definitely here for safety and security. She's another layer of it. But we don't rely on her. We have other processes in place to keep our students safe whether she is here or not. But it was one more step to ensure everyone's safety."

The hearing for LB 390 was scheduled to go in front of the Judiciary Committee Thursday.