Security officers play a vital role in the day to day experience of students. Coming from a youth perspective, our report contains recommendations based on our school experience that can create a more comfortable and friendly environment for both students and security officers. Students are the ones who come in the most contact with security officers and we feel students should have a voice when it comes to expectations and supports security officer should receive. If we can improve communication between security officers and students, we can begin to work together as equal partners in improving schools.
Our research asks "How can Chicago Public Schools better train, support and evaluate security officers?" This question was important to research because we believe that security officers have an impact on youth, whether it be positive or negative on a daily basis.
We also believe it is a question most adults do not often ask themselves but is one that students talk about all the time. Most adults do not realize the impact that security officers can have on a school's culture and a student's learning. A security officer's job is hardly ever limited to what is written in the job description.
We spent more than 120 hours researching this issue. We met with other groups and people researching similar topics, including principals, CPS security officers, the Head of Citywide Security Trainings and a union representative from SEIU's local 73, which represents security officers.
We visited several schools and discussed their safety plans and the role security officers played in creating an inviting and secure learning environment. We've seen administrators work with students to have them charged with "keeping the peace" and security officers actively seek mentoring opportunities through which they engage with students. These are strong examples of students and security officers working together to create positive, healthy relationships that in turn create a less violent atmosphere at the school.