School Business Affairs January 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JANUARY 2019 13 SAFE AND SECURE SCHOOLS School District Police Departments— Considering the Options The story of one school district that has its own police department. By Shannon A. Flounnory L aw enforcement officers first appeared in public schools during the 1950s, and their numbers have increased with the growing concerns related to safety and security. The National Association of School Resource Officers estimates that between 14,000 and 20,000 school resource officers are in service nationwide today. These school resource officers are employed by local municipalities; however, local school districts contract with them to provide law enforcement services to their schools, serve as mentors, and provide law-related edu- cation to reinforce students’ civic responsibilities. Recognizing that public schools’ law enforcement needs are notably different from those of the municipali- ties, some school districts—including Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia—have established their own police departments. This decision is, to some extent, a response to national data that suggest that dispropor- tionate numbers of minority students are being arrested in the nation’s schools compared with their majority Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, which covers 12 municipalities, established its own police department in 1989. PHOTO COURTESY OF FULTON COUNTY SCHOOLS