School Resource Officers
For over two decades, the Arvada Police Department has been placing police officers in schools within the City of Arvada. With the growing number of violent crimes being committed related to schools, the Arvada Police Department felt it important to implement the School Resource Officer program.
The Arvada Police Department knew the students' safety was a priority and wanted to assist in providing the young students in the community a safe place to learn. The department started with placing a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every public high school. As a police department, we quickly realized there were many benefits of having officers in the schools. The SROs also quickly became an integral part of the school community in which they worked.
When we respond to emergency calls for service, such as traffic accidents, assaults, child abuse, or domestic violence, a police officer in uniform can be intimidating. Introducing police officers into our school system to work side by side with school staff allows our youngest community members to see a police officer as an essential resource and not be frightened.
The department now invests over one million dollars in the SRO program. It has ten officers assigned to the following schools: Arvada High School, Arvada West High School, Pomona High School, Ralston Valley High School, Arvada K8, Foster K8, North Arvada Middle School, Oberon Middle School, Three Creeks K8, and a rotating elementary SRO. All of these schools are very different and are unique to their community. The SROs work with each school's administration and community in providing the best resources and services to the students and communities.
All of our SROs have been through the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) introductory SRO course. This course is currently the national standard in SROs and their training. In this course, we learn there are three primary purposes for a school resource officer. Those three purposes are school safety, informal counselor/mentor, and education. Notice disciplinarian is not one of the three primary objectives of an SRO. All school discipline is and should be handled by the school administration.
The SROs are not inside of the schools with the goal of strict enforcement in mind. Through the unified support of the SRO and school administration, several situations can be handled without criminal charges. Our SROs would prefer to resolve problems within the school without writing a ticket or making an arrest. The start of restorative practices in schools has helped with these goals and priorities.
We have seen that our SROs have built relationships with their students, allowing them to gauge what resources might be best to help support the students. The SROs work closely with the city attorney and the juvenile district attorneys. This partnership is essential because the SRO can talk with the attorney about a criminally charged student and discuss what resources, classes, or programs might benefit the student best. The goal is always to help students learn and become better, so they do not become repeat offenders.
Our SRO program is more than just placing officers in schools and performing the above duties. Our SROs also plan and teach a teen academy each year during the summer. They attend after school events like dances to continue to build relationships within a more relaxed atmosphere. The SROs host and teach parent academies with the hope of empowering parents. The officers continue their education and training with current trends with youth and school safety. The SROs also respond to most Safe2Tell (an anonymous reporting platform for schools in Colorado) reports within the city.
We are proud to have a wonderful working relationship with our area schools and the Jefferson County Public School District. We are even more proud of our SRO program and the officers within it. More information about our SRO program can be found at Arvada.org under SRO. If you have any questions about our program, please feel free to call the Arvada Police Department or contact one of our many SROs, as they would be glad to meet with you.
- by Public Safety (Police)