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'We want to come back': Aurora police chief, Arapahoe County sheriff provide details on SRO plan

Chief Wilson
'We want to come back," Aurora Police Chief and Arapahoe County Sheriff detail SRO plan
Posted at 10:37 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 00:37:14-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — As the Aurora Police Department looks to recruit and retain more officers, a neighboring law enforcement agency has stepped up to help with staffing woes.

"This was really Sheriff Tyler Brown reaching out and saying, 'I know you're having staffing issues, and we want to make sure that we're covering the schools,'" said Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson during an exclusive interview with Denver7.

Beginning Nov. 1, six school resource officers from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office will be placed in three high schools — Grandview High School, Cherokee Trail High School and Smoky Hill High School — previously covered by the Aurora Police Department.

"Before, we had two SROs that would float through those three schools," Wilson said.

"What we're doing is we're just continuing the good work that the Aurora SROs have put into those buildings and allowing them to prioritize staffing," Sheriff Tyler Brown said.

The help provided by the ACSO comes at time when the APD has hit a critical point with staffing. In September, Wilson spoke to Denver7 Investigates about the overtime being accrued by APD officers.

Last week, the City of Aurora reported officers had already surpassed more than 6,600 hours of overtime in 2021 so far. Since January 2020, the department has lost more than 150 officers.

"It's going to take us some time to get our staffing back up, but once we can, the school resource officers will be replaced," Wilson said.

Each of three campuses receiving SROs from Arapahoe County has at least 2,000 students.

"I think the importance of having two SROs in each one of these schools is they're small cities, you know, these young adults that are going to school are dealing with a lot of the same issues that we're dealing with," Brown said.

The partnership is set to last through Jan. 1, but both Wilson and Brown said there's flexibility to adjust plans.

In January, the Aurora City Council will vote on whether to create an Intergovernmental Agreement to continue the partnership.

"We want to come back. This is a temporary fix until our staffing is back," Wilson said. "I can tell you that the SROs that cover these schools, they're going to miss these kids."

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman released the following statement praising the partnership:

"It is important that school resource officer positions at all of Aurora's school districts are adequately staffed. As the Aurora Police Department seeks collaborative solutions to staffing challenges, I deeply appreciate the help from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Tyler Brown in temporarily filling the void at Cherokee Trail High School, Grandview High School and Smoky Hill High School.“