BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Months of talks between the City of Greenwood Village (GV) and the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) after GV City Council turned down a request by its police chief for two additional school resource officers (SRO’s) last September have resulted in a one-year, nine-page intergovernmental agreement for the provision of SRO services to CCSD by the GV Police Department. Previously the relationship was informal. The new written agreement provides for six GV SRO’s to serve CCSD, up from the previous total of five. In answers to questions posed by The Villager, CCSD said that the duties and responsibilities of the SRO’s have not changed.
CCSD will pay $282,378 of the total cost of $446,630 for “capital, operating, salary and benefits” for the six police officers for this school year.
Five of the SRO’s will be stationed at the Cherry Creek High School campus at 9300 E. Union Avenue, and also have responsibility for Campus Middle School and Belleview Elementary School, which are adjacent. One officer will be stationed at West Middle School at 5151 S. Holly Street and also cover Greenwood Elementary School at 5550 S. Holly Street.
The agreement was approved unanimously by the GV City Council at its regular meeting on August 5 without discussion after it was finalized in an executive (private) session at the beginning of the meeting. Once approved, the agreement became public, available to anyone requesting it under the Colorado Freedom of Information Act.
After the city council vote, CCSD Superintendent Scott Siegfried told The Villager, ““We are grateful for the strong partnership with Greenwood Village police as well as all of our law enforcement partners as we work together to keep Cherry Creek students safe. This agreement formalizes our relationship with Greenwood Village and strengthens our ability to serve schools.” On cost-sharing, Siegfried told us, “Over the past two years, we have been working to become more equal partners with law enforcement in ensuring safe schools. We have offered like amounts for the service with the Aurora Police Department and Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.” (Those are the other area law enforcement agencies that provide SRO services to CCSD).
GV Police Chief Dustin Varney said, “The Greenwood Village City Council asked the right questions to get us to the right place, which ultimately led to the unanimous approval of the intergovernmental agreement. It’s obvious they care about the safety of students and staff.” He particularly acknowledged Councilmember Judy Hilton for her work on the agreement.
Hilton, a former CCSD principal, thanked the school district “for being willing partners to step up and do the right thing.” Siegfried returned the compliment to the city, saying “The school district has maintained a strong and positive relationship with Greenwood Village and we continue to have a strong relationship It was never contentious.”
In an interview with The Villager, GV City Manager John Jackson and Police Chief Dustin Varney emphasized that the time spent with CCSD officials over the past year led to the development of excellent working relationships that will assure the best outcomes for students and maximum safety for everyone.
Varney told The Villager that working together, GV and CCSD created a document that “reflects the best practices under the standards established by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).”
The chief explained that before assuming this specialized duty, all GV SRO’s undergo NASRO standard training consisting of a five-day, 40-hour basic course. It includes instruction on the dif school environment, de-escalation techniques, mentorship, informal counseling, and how to establish a lasting partnership with schools. SRO’s also attend NASRO’s annual summer conference to keep up to date with advancements in their field, particularly adaptations to active threat situations and standard response protocols.
Although the agreement with CCSD requires that SRO’s have at least three years of law enforcement experience, the six GV SRO’s have an average of 16 years’ experience as police officers. The team includes a sergeant and a corporal.
GV City Manager John Jackson spoke proudly of the efforts put forth and the result that was achieved. He said, “The safety of our schools, to include the students who attend, is of paramount concern to everyone in city government. I’m proud of the partnership that we have with the Cherry Creek School District and know that this intergovernmental agreement will provide the foundation for an ongoing strong partnership.”
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