DENVER -- Denver public schools will begin the next school year without resource officers on campus, ending about two decades of partnership.
The move comes as the DPS board unanimously voted to end their contract with the Denver Police Department, citing concerns of bias toward Black and Latino students, amid civil unrest and protesting across the country, following the death of George Floyd.
All Denver school resource officers have since been transitioned out of schools, according to DPD Division Chief of Patrol Ron Thomas.
For "a lot of these officers, it was their passion, it was their purpose, I think, in life. They very much cherished their opportunity to engage with youth and interact with youth and provide mentorship to those youth," Thomas said.
But without those opportunities, some school resource officers have decided to leave the department all together.
"Having lost that purpose, they've chosen to move on," Thomas said.
Denver Police Officer John Avila decided to stay with the force.
"Taking us out of the school's is a huge problem for me," Avila said.
Avila served as a school resource officer for several years. He says people have the wrong idea about what SROs do.
"We're not here just to be punitive all the time, you know? We have a lot of resources that can help out, we can be the mentor for them," Avila said.
Avila is among the other former school resource officers who were assigned a new role in the department, according to Thomas.
"We've identified some hotspot locations in each of our districts, so those officers have been kind of redeployed to assist us in dealing with the challenges in those hotspot locations."
Those hotspots make up much of Denver's violent crime. Reassigned officers are tasked with building a relationship with the people who live there.
"Us being out here in the community now, we're going to do more face-to-face, we actually go knocking door to door and just reaching out to folks, seeing if they need help with anything because we are going to lose that with a lot of our youth."
DPD plans on having several days of service and events within these hotspots to connect with the community. Their next event hasn't been announced yet.