DENVER, CO. - In a stunning turn of events, the Denver School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend a policy that had prohibited school resource officers (SROs) in the district. The decision came just one day after two deans at East High School were shot by a student, sparking fear and concern throughout the community.
The move to reinstate SROs was met with mixed reactions. Some believe that having armed police officers in schools will provide much-needed security and protection for students and staff. Others, however, are concerned about the potential for violence and discrimination, particularly in light of recent high-profile incidents of police brutality.
Superintendent Alex Marrero, who was instructed by a memo to collaborate with Mayor Michael Hancock to pay for two armed police officers to be stationed at all high schools for the remainder of the academic year, defended the decision.
This is the right course of action," he stated.
The memo also called for hiring two mental health professionals, such as social workers or therapists, to work in high schools as part of a long-term safety plan for the district. Marrero emphasized the importance of community engagement in developing this plan, stating,
What we are doing is including more community engagement. We have not switched positions."
The decision to reinstate SROs reverses a policy put in place by the board last year following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many felt that having police officers in schools contributed to the school-to-prison pipeline and that alternative approaches to school safety were needed.
However, the recent shooting at East High School has reignited the debate over school resource officers. Austin Lyle, the 17-year-old suspected shooter, was on probation for a weapons charge at the time of the shooting. Marrero confirmed that the staff at East High School were aware of Lyle's criminal history and had agreed to pat him down every day. However, even if an SRO had been present, they would not have been able to search Lyle without probable cause.
Former House Speaker Terrance Carroll cautioned against quick reactions to the shooting, tweeting,
Politics is naturally reactive, and we are seeing that played out right now in the aftermath of the East High shootings."
Others, however, are demanding immediate action on gun control measures. Hundreds of students gathered at the Capitol on Thursday to demand that state lawmakers approve five gun control bills.
Mayor Hancock and lead prosecutor Beth McCann issued statements backing the decision to reinstate SROs.
I appreciate this change in direction by the DPS school board and believe it is the right decision," Hancock said in his statement.
The decision will be in effect until June 30, when the board reevaluates the policy. In the meantime, students and staff in Denver schools will be under the watchful eye of armed police officers, raising questions about what this will mean for school safety and the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
What are your thoughts on the Denver School Board's decision to reinstate school resource officers in light of the recent shooting at East High School? Do you believe having armed police officers in schools will provide the necessary security, or are you concerned about the potential for violence and discrimination? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you found this article worth reading, show some love and buy me a coffee. It will be greatly appreciated and might even prevent me from falling asleep on my keyboard.
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