Officer Laura Houser has stepped into the controversial position of being the new School Resource Officer (SRO), on San Marin campus. SRO’s face controversy nationally, and in the San Marin community, as the program has been criticized for disproportionately targeting and racial profiling certain groups of students. Debate over whether SRO’s should be in the Novato Unified School District (NUSD) began last school year, and is still an active issue today. Towards the start of this school year, the NUSD school board ultimately decided they would continue their partnership with the Novato Police Department paid for by a grant from the Department of Justice.
Officer Houser expressed that her interest in becoming San Marin’s SRO stems from her desire to be a positive influence on children and teens.
“When the SRO program returned I immediately made SRO my future goal. My passion has always been working with children and teens” Officer Houser said.
As a new figure on campus she realizes that she must earn the trust of students that feel unsafe with her presence. Controversy now and in previous years was centered around police and law enforcement discrimination against minoritites and students of color. Houser is hoping to strengthen her relationship with the black indigenous people of color (BIPOC) community at San Marin.
“I understand that it will be hard to gain that trust and it will take time, but I believe that by having an office with open doors I can form a connection with every student,” Houser said.
Another controversy surrounding SROs is the school to prison pipeline. Contact with law enforcement at a young age is seen to correlate with students getting in more trouble with law enforcement after they get out of school. Houser recognized the school to prison pipeline, but felt that she had seen differently within the San Marin community.
“From my experience in our community, what we are seeing is the opposite,” Houser said. “Being the SRO allows me to form deeper connections than a patrol officer that must respond to every call.”
Houser plans to keep an open door policy with all students, parents and school staff.
“If students need something it hopefully takes away the anxiety of calling the police department because they know they have a personal police officer right there, and the goal being that they trust.”
Laura Houser is the new SRO on campus. She takes on the controversial role as an alumni of San Marin.