Nearly three years after Denver Public Schools’ board unanimously decided to remove armed officers in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the district’s superintendent is changing course.
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Denver Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero wrote a letter Wednesday announcing the return of police officers to schools — a move that comes after yet another shocking shooting rocked his community.
A student reportedly shot two teachers at East High School, sparking a somber and resolute reaction from Marrero.
“Today was my fourth visit to Denver Health’s Intensive Care Unit due to victims of gun violence,” he wrote. “These events should not have happened on my watch or on this Board’s watch.”
The superintendent said he plans to have two armed Denver Police Department officers at East High School throughout the rest of this school year, and will also have an armed officer at other high schools.
Marrero pointed out these moves likely violate the board’s 2020 limitations on officers in schools, though he noted the needs far outweigh such considerations.
“I acknowledge this action likely violates Executive Limitations 10.10, which mandates that I ‘not staff
district schools with school resource officers or the consistent presence of security armed with guns or
any other law enforcement personnel,'” Marrero wrote. “However, I can no longer stand on the sidelines. I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions.”
In the end, he affirmed school safety matters most.
The school board agreed with Marrero’s calls for police assistance, meeting Thursday to approve his request for up to two cops and mental health professionals inside district high schools.
According to KDVR-TV, the 2020 executive limitation policy barring “school resource officers or the consistent presence of security armed with guns or any other law enforcement personnel” will be suspended until at least June 30.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock also backed the superintendent’s plan, putting out a statement in support of affirming the “safety of students and the public require deployment of police officers assigned to the high school for the remainder of the school year.”
“I encouraged and strongly support the superintendent’s decision to bring police officers back to DPS high schools, and I’ve directed Chief Thomas to support this effort and deploy our officers accordingly in coordination with the school district,” Hancock said.
The school board voted in June 2020 to reduce police officers in schools by 25% through the end of 2020 and to ax its partnership entirely with the Denver Police Department by the end of the 2021 school year.
“While our school resource officers are great people who love our students, we want to address the systemic issues our students face,” then-School Board Vice President Jennifer Bacon said at the time.
Now, the board is openly supporting cops’ return to campuses.
“The Board of Education supports the decision of Superintendent Marrero to work in partnership with local law enforcement to create safer learning spaces across Denver Public Schools for the remainder of this school year,” a board statement reads. “In addition, we will continue to work collaboratively with our community partners including law enforcement and our local & state legislature to make our community safer.”
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