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University of Nebraska Public Policy Center

NIJ Grant Awarded, Will Examine Rural School Safety and Security

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, led by Dr. Mario Scalora, in partnership with the National Institute of Justice and the Nebraska Department of Education, will examine how perceptions and organization of school safety and security are associated with the level and type of law enforcement engagement in rural schools.

“A collaboration with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center is a win-win. It’s great for Nebraska schools, it’s great for the Nebraska Department of Education, and great for the University of Nebraska. These partnerships are critical to move forward with safety and security in Nebraska schools,” said Jolene Palmer, School Safety and Security Director for the Nebraska Department of Education.

Rural schools engage with local law enforcement but they often do not label that engagement as part of a formal “school resource officer” (SRO) model. This project will lead to a taxonomy of how law enforcement is engaged in rural schools that can be tested against behavioral outcomes, establish reliability of school perceptions of safety and security, and  examine how safety and security preparedness is associated with law enforcement engagement in rural schools.

“The vast majority of school safety research is performed in urban and suburban areas. Since both rural educators and law enforcement personnel must work together with limited financial resources, it is important to study how they best maximize their efforts to keep schools safe,” said Dr. Scalora.

Pictured L to R: Dr. Denise Bulling, NUPPC; Dr. Mario Scalora, NUPPC; Dr. Jolene Palmer, Nebraska Department of Education