BY FREDA MIKLIN
School Resource Officers (SROs), law enforcement officers who are specially trained to work in our schools with students, are assigned by the local law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction in which schools are located, regardless of the school district to which the school belongs. For instance, an SRO assigned to Belleview Elementary School in Greenwood Village will be a member of GV’s police department, while an SRO assigned to Homestead Elementary School will be a member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department (ACSD) even though both are schools are in the Cherry Creek School District because Homestead Elementary is located in Centennial and ACSD is contracted to handle law enforcement duties for the City of Centennial, which doesn’t have its own municipal police department.
It has been well publicized that the City of Aurora has had challenges recently filling all its positions for police officers. One of the results is that Aurora has had difficulty providing enough trained SROs to staff the public schools within its boundaries.
On October 26, it was announced that, “Beginning November 1, 2021, Arapahoe County sheriff SROs will be assigned to three additional high schools in the Cherry Creek School District on a temporary basis through January 1, 2022. Those schools include Grandview High School, Cherokee Trail High School and Smoky Hill High School. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has offered to take over school resource duties at the three schools named above due to staffing priorities with the Aurora Police Department. With more than 2,000 students at each of the three high schools, Sheriff Tyler Brown has authorized two sheriff deputies to be assigned to each school to staff the campuses during school hours.”
Said Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown, “By placing two deputies in each of these schools, students, staff and SROs will continue the atmosphere of trust and respect with one another which will result in less crime and keeping students and staff safe. It’s a collaborative effort between our agency, Aurora Police Department and the Cherry Creek School District that we believe will be very successful.”
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said, ““I appreciate the ability to build on the existing partnership we have with Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown and his deputies to ensure the service to our schools is unimpacted due to staffing shortages. The Aurora Police Department frequently works with ACSO deputies as co-responders, providing mutual aid to community members in Arapahoe County. Both agencies are unwilling to compromise the safety of our students and have worked together with Cherry Creek School District to share in the responsibility for providing law enforcement resources.”
Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Chris Smith said, “It is our responsibility to make sure all students feel safe, supported and valued in school. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and Aurora Police Department, we will continue to ensure our schools are safe places for all students to thrive. We are grateful for the additional SROs from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.”
In January, the Aurora City Council will determine whether a new intergovernmental agreement is required to continue the arrangement.