Under FERPA, “law enforcement unit” means any individual, office, department, division, or other component of a school, such as a unit of commissioned police officers or noncommissioned security guards, that is officially authorized or designated by that school or school district to (1) enforce any local, state, or federal law, or refer to appropriate authorities a matter for enforcement of any local, state, or federal law against any individual or organization other than the agency or institution itself; or (2) maintain the physical security and safety of the agency or institution. See 34 CFR § 99.8(a)(1).
Schools vary in who they authorize or designate to be their law enforcement unit, usually depending upon their size and resources. Some larger school districts have their own fully equipped police units, while others have smaller security offices. Other schools designate a vice principal or other school official to act as the law enforcement unit officer. And other schools may utilize local police officers and SROs as their law enforcement officials.