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Denver school officials, parents talk school safety at community meeting

School board VP says it's time for others to step up to address gun violence
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Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 11, 2023

DENVER — The shooting near Denver’s East High School last month claimed the life of 16-year-old Luis Garcia and left many worried about school safety.

Amy Golden’s children are young, but she says gun violence is something every parent should be concerned about.

“I know people that have lost children to gun violence. I have friends that have lost siblings to gun violence,” said Golden. “I feel very strongly that this is something that is devastating our country.”

That’s why Golden was among a group of parents who gathered at Manual High School Saturday to hear how Denver school and community leaders are working to address gun violence.

“We've been seeing increased community violence across the city and county of Denver,” said Denver school board vice-president Auon’tai Anderson. “This was an opportunity for the board of education to engage with our community members.”

Denver school officials, parents talk school safety at community meeting

Moms Demand Action provided statistical data to parents about gun violence at schools.

Anderson says the district has been working on multiple fronts to improve safety.

But Anderson is opposed to bringing back school resource officers, as some parents and students at East High School have called for.

Anderson led the effort to have school resource officers removed in 2020.

“I don't support over-policing of our schools,” said Anderson, adding that school resource officers would likely not have been able to prevent the shooting that took Garcia’s life because it happened off-campus.

Anderson says DPS has a working relationship with Denver Police, and he would support increased patrols around Denver schools.

“If DPD would like to increase the patrol around our school communities, by all means, do so,” said Anderson. “Interact with our kids. Interact with our kids in a humane way. Don’t use this as an opportunity to criminalize our students.”

District leaders say they will continue looking for ways to increase safety at all their schools, but they said there’s only so much they can do.

He says other bodies must step up and act.

“The school board can't continue to act as state legislators or congressmen and women,” said Anderson. “We have to have folks stepping up and doing their jobs.”

Anderson says the best way to increase safety at East High School and other schools is for lawmakers to pass an assault weapons ban and raise the age to purchase a gun to 21.

Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas, who also attended the meeting, agrees limiting gun access would be the most effective way to prevent gun violence.

Golden just hopes something is done soon.

“This is not a political issue. I think it's an issue about humanity,” said Golden.


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