DPS board members propose bringing in community resource officers instead of SROs

dps community resource officers proposal
Posted at 9:51 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 23:51:45-04

DENVER — Three Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education members proposed a new plan Wednesday to bring community resource officers (CROs) into schools instead of school resource officers (SROs).

The board removed SROs from schools in June 2020, but after several recent shootings — including one at East High School that injured two deans in March — the district suspended that policy and brought back officers for the remainder of the school year.

After the March shooting at East High School, Superintendent Alex Marrero was tasked with creating a long-term safety plan for the district.

In the first draft of the safety plan, Marrero recommended that the school board let all district-run high schools and 6th-12th campuses make site-based decisions on whether they want SROs back in the schools. This must involve community engagement, the drafted plan read.

The second draft removes that decision from individual schools and gives the school board power to make the overarching decision regarding SROs in comprehensive high schools and 6th-12th grade campuses.



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Under the plan proposed Wednesday, the school district would create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Denver Police Department in order to bring in community resource officers.

The proposal is supported by three board members — Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson, Board Secretary Michelle Quattlebaum and Board Treasurer Scott Esserman.

“This MOU would clearly define the role of CROs within our communities, ensuring law enforcement presence is limited — focusing on safety and avoid unnecessarily criminalizing our students,” said Anderson.

The CROs would be Denver police officers and would not be stationed at campuses, according to Anderson. Instead, they would be assigned to regions across the district and would be available to support DPS personnel when necessary.

“CROs will not be permitted to conduct searches without probable cause,” said Anderson. “No other school-based personnel will be permitted to provide or do any search on a student. This would alleviate the fear of a school-based educator conducting a conceptual search of a student and placing the responsibility in the hands of trained professionals with the Denver Public Schools Department of Climate and Public Safety.”

Denver East High School

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Under the plan, a CRO's responsibility would be limited to protecting the physical safety of students, staff and the school community, addressing criminal conduct by someone outside the school community, and when law enforcement is required by law. The work of CROs would be documented by school administrators and made available to the community.

“We have to stop simply responding to each event. This policy can't be a response to one incident that happened,” said Esserman.

The school board will meet Thursday to discuss its suspension of SROs, as well as the CRO proposal.

In a statement, Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said the department will comply with the direction of the school board and school administrators.

“The clear preference of the Denver Police Department is for full-time School Resource Officers in all comprehensive DPS High Schools. They will serve as a layer of safety planning and, more importantly, maintaining positive relationships with youth in schools. This position was shared with members of the school board. The decision will ultimately be that of DPS. DPD will comply with the direction of the DPS Board and school Administration. There are still a number of uncertainties with multiple options still on the table. While the department has begun logistical planning internally for different options, we will not comment about those plans until after a final determination has been made.”

Board Member Scott Baldermann submitted his own proposal, which states SROs would only be present on school property for "safety, de-escalation, crime deterrence, educational purposes, mentoring, and community building – not discipline."

Tickets, arrests and exclusionary discipline would be monitored under the plan, and the school board would receive quarterly reports of such actions through the end of the 2025-2026 school year.

This proposal will also be discussed during Thursday's meeting.

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