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Denver Public Schools students push for return of school resource officers following 2020 removal

Students called for more school safety measures during a Denver City Council meeting after a 16-year-old student was shot near Denver East High School.
Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 19:57:42-05

DENVER — As 16-year-old Luis Garcia continues to fight for his life after being shot near Denver East High School over a week ago, a group of his friends spoke out at a Denver City Council meetingTuesday, demanding for more school safety measures.

The students asked for the reinstatement of school resource officers (SROs), who were removed from Denver Public Schools campuses ahead of the 2020-2021 school year after the Board of Education unanimously voted to end its relationship with the Denver Police Department.

"We were all very moved by their heartfelt concerns about their safety," said Denver City Councilwoman At-Large Debbie Ortega. "They expressed that they want school resource officers back in their school, and I support that."

Ortega, who is running for mayor, says it's, at the very least, a topic city and school officials need to address.

"I'm not sure every school wants their resource officers back, but I think it's a conversation we need to have because we have too many guns in our community," Ortega said.

An open records request obtained by Chalkbeat revealed Denver Public Schools (DPS) found a record number of weapons on school property last school year.

According to school data, during last school year, 200 weapons, including 13 guns and 28 fake guns, were found on DPS property, which is five times the number of weapons found during the 2018-2019 school year.

Denver School Board Vice President Auon'Tai Anderson led the charge in 2020 to end the relationship with Denver PD. He told Denver7 Thursday bringing SROs back to DPS campuses is out of the question.

"SROs will not be coming back to the Denver Public Schools," said Anderson. "Although we must have a working relationship with our law enforcement, that does not mean they need to be physically present within our building. Denver Public Schools has a robust department of safety that is both present in our schools and armed patrol that can respond to our schools in minutes if anything were to happen."

The students who spoke out at the council meeting hope to continue advocating for school safety, as they pray for Garcia's recovery.

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