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Mayor Hancock on gun violence frustration and the decision to place armed officers in DPS high schools

Posted: 9:08 AM, Mar 23, 2023
Updated: 2023-03-23 11:08:23-04
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DENVER — Denver7 anchors Nicole Brady and Brian Sanders were at East High School Thursday morning following the shootingand were joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.In this interview, presented as a Q&A format, the mayor addressed growing frustration of parents and students on gun violence and offered insight and background into the decision to place armed officers at all Denver Public Schools high schools through the remainder of the school year.

Denver mayor on East HS shooting: 'A tragedy all around'

Thank you for joining us. Parents we know range from outraged, very heated exchange. Some are just feeling helpless others sadly, have become numb to these acts of violence. We know you were out here with Police Chief Ron Thomas yesterday, talking to them hearing their complaints. What did you take away from that exchange?

Well, first of all, it's a tragedy all around. This is a situation that parents should never have to be faced with. And certainly students should never be faced with in terms of the safety and security, the haven of their school being pierced. And I certainly empathize with those parents. I understand their frustration, their their anger. And we knew that. We willingly walked over to them. We wanted to update them. But we also wanted to hear them out. And they were they were quite animated, as they should be. And I think had been had my students been there I would feel the same way.

Mr. Mayor, the announcement that came just shortly after the incident yesterday was that armed police officers will be returning to school campuses,not just east but all high schools in Denver. Was this something you spoke with Superintendent Alex Marrero about? And how are you working to help reimplement those officers in schools in the appropriate way?

Yeah, while we were in the school, you know, getting briefed and understanding what just occurred in the building, the chief, Superintendent Marrero and President of the Board of Education Gaytán and I all sat and said, We've got to change the narrative here. We've got to change the situation here for these young people, for the student, faculty and staff, for the parents.

And we agreed that we've got to get officers in this building. A lot of people are asking question, why were Deans patting down the student? Well, if there was an SRO in the building, more than likely, it would not have been patting down on the student. And the student may have thought twice, about bringing a weapon in the school. And so it's those sorts of situations that we felt that it was necessary for us to move. And so we crafted the strategy, before we met with the media, kind of finalized it throughout the day and made a determination as superintendent, so we must do this. And you know, I'll make the decision. And we said we're gonna... It's now our situation as well. But the safety and security of the school has been pierced.

It's no longer just the school board. It's the Denver Police Department, the city of Denver, who have to lean in and say, You know what, we have to step in down and make decisions in the best interest of the people in that building.

Clearly, there's a new urgency, a renewed urgency. And we know safety has been a top priority for you, leading the city for the last 12 years and cracking down on gun violence and youth violence. How do you now pass that torch? What's the message that you would have? What's that transition like to your successor?

Well, I think first of all, it was interesting to see some of the candidates show up yesterday at the school. And I was proud to see that because they literally are trying to engage at this point and and to say, what can we do to help about and that's important not to play politics, but to say, we are here we want to be supportive, and we want to be helpful to you. And that was good to have them there.

But the reality is that there will be that's why we have such a long transition in Denver in six weeks. And we will have theopportunity to sit with them and talk to them about what we how we are shaping or see the situation. And then these are tools that we have brought to bear and the tools that are also still available that maybe haven't been deployed. So we'll make sure that we pass along that information and as robust as we possibly can for the mayor elect and his or her administration.

Less than two weeks till election day now we know that the candidates, the 16 have already spoken outand we put their statements online. Mayor Michael Hancock, thank you so much for joining us. We know that you will be speaking to a lot of national outlets today as well as the attention once again comes to Denver on the subject of gun violence.

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