Limestone Junior Presents Research at Criminal Justice Conference in Toronto, Canada
Tanner Hamrick

In early March, Tanner Hamrick, a Limestone junior majoring in criminal justice, was selected to present his paper about school resource officers at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) during their annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.

While at the conference, he was chosen by his conference peers to chair the student panel on juvenile justice and juvenile crime.

"It is very rare for a student at the undergraduate level to be asked to present at this conference," said Dr. Betsy Witt, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Limestone. "The Academy is an international organization whose members are academicians or practitioners in criminal justice."

Hamrick's organizational skills are evident when one looks at his accomplishments as a student-athlete at Limestone. A member of the College's Men's Track Team, he possesses a 3.8 grade point average; has been named to the College's Dean's List; is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma (national honors society for criminal justice students); Alpha Chi (academic honor society); and the College's Honors Program.
Of his decision to major in criminal justice, Tanner said, "I've been interested in law enforcement since I was a little boy, and believe it's the ultimate form of civic duty."

When deciding what to write about for the ACJS conference, Tanner chose school resource officers because "sadly, we have gone from an era where schools were considered a safe haven for students to a world where bullying, drug abuse, and other violent crimes have become so common that students and teachers alike fear for their safety. Instead of being concerned about teaching students the three R's, teachers and school administrators now have to deal with much larger issues that are far outside their scope of expertise. As school districts face this myriad of new challenges, most are looking for new ways to combat problems, with the most common option being to assign law enforcement officer to schools on a full-time basis."

According to Tanner, the first use of police officers in schools can be traced to 1958 when the Flint, Michigan Police Department placed officers in schools for the first time to improve relations between youth and law enforcement. The program was a success and led to similar efforts in other states during the 1960's.

"Today's school resource officer is a three-headed creature that is part police officer, teacher, and guidance counselor; they are specifically trained to perform all three roles, sometimes simultaneously, within a school." explained Tanner. "It is becoming more and more typical for schools to use their school resource officers as teachers as well as law enforcement officers...particularly at the middle school level where some officers spend as much as 20 percent of their time teaching in classrooms. Often this time is spent educating students through substance abuse and safety programs such as the Prom Promises events held in most secondary schools each year. They are also regularly teaching the students about the risks and criminal consequences of bullying and cyber-bullying, both of which have become major problems in a world where students have instant access to social media websites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter on their phones."