Dysconscious Policing: A Critical Content Analysis of School Resource Officer Training Materials

  • Jamie Utt University of Arizona
Keywords: School Resource Officers, Critical Race Theory, Policing, Dysconscious Racism, Race Neutrality, Schools, Racism


With more than 30,000 police stationed in U.S. schools, school resource officers (SROs) are a grossly understudied phenomenon. Advocates for police in schools highlight the ways they can improve safety for all students despite the racialized legacy of policing in the United States. Few scholars have studied the racialization of police in the field of education or the educational ramifications of SROs on students. This paper offers findings from a Critical Race Content Analysis of school resource officer training materials from one state in the U.S. southwest. The analyzed text is the training manual for any SRO who enters schools in the state. López’s (2003) analysis of race-neutral discourses in education and King’s (1991) notion of dysconscious racism guide the analysis of the training materials. Coding yielded 73 individual references to race or to racially coded content, which were categorized into five themes for analysis: (a) overt mentions of race and ethnicity (n=7), (b) universalizing student experiences (n=30), (c) operative Whiteness (n=16), (d) criminalizing students (n=15), and (e) opportunities for positive development (n=5). Themes are described and analyzed. Implications for further training are offered, and questions are raised about the role police ought to play in schools.

Author Biography

Jamie Utt, University of Arizona

Jamie Utt is a PhD student in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona where he is studying the impact of White teacher racial identity development on pedagogical practice. He is the founder and director of CivilSchools, a comprehensive school culture and climate program designed to offer skills and tools necessary to build more equitable communities. He also works as a sexual violence prevention educator, having served colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.


How to Cite
Utt, J. (2018). Dysconscious Policing: A Critical Content Analysis of School Resource Officer Training Materials. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 8(2), 71 - 89. Retrieved from https://www.wpcjournal.com/article/view/17931