Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Tina Jaeckle

Committee Member

Alexis Carpinteri

Committee Member

Abigail Tucker


behavior, elementary schools, generic qualitative, perceptions, positive relationships, school resource officers


This applied dissertation was designed to investigate the perceptions of school resource officers (SROs) in Southern Maryland regarding the support SROs could provide elementary schools to foster positive interpersonal relationships while maintaining school safety and what additional resources that the SROs needed to support their job.

The overall school climate and morale at some elementary schools have significantly decreased due to increased student-aggressive behaviors. The school climate is correlated to student academic success (Sanders et al., 2018). School climate can include safety, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning, and the school environment.

There is a need for school resource officers in elementary schools to support the overall school climate as they build a general feeling of safety. They can collaboratively foster healthy relationships within the school environment and create an environment conducive to teaching and learning. SROs should refrain from regularly needing to handle disciplinary needs in schools. Instead, they should help build positive relationships through collaboration with staff that help empower these future community members to make wise and safe choices in and out of the school environment.

This generic qualitative study addressed what SRO perceptions were in role in a public school in Southern Maryland. It also addressed the training and additional resources that SROs need to continue to grow the SRO program.

The findings of this study suggest that SROs can foster positive interpersonal relationships while maintaining school safety at any school level that they are assigned to. Their perceptions demonstrate the importance of building relationships through trust, being approachable, having positive interactions with staff, students, and administration, being playful, showing compassion, and having good communication skills. The findings of this study suggest additional resources that SROs need, such as continued training and collaboration, among other accessible items, in order to improve the SRO program.