Denver shooting renews debate over School Resource Officers
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() — A school shooting in Denver that injured two administrators Wednesday has renewed the debate over School Resource Officers in the nation’s schools.
Amid outrage from parents and students, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said police officers will return to the high school for the rest of the year following the recent shooting.
Hancock released a statement that read: “It’s also time to return School Resource Officers in our schools. Removing them was a mistake and we must move swiftly to correct it. We’re ready to work with DPS, and we all have to step up as a community and be part of the solution.”
The school board got rid of resource officers in 2020, voting unanimously with the superintendent citing an “urgent and absolute need to end the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis fueled a national push to get police officers out of public school buildings.
The Minneapolis Board of Education ended its contract with the local police department and pressure mounted for school districts nationwide to follow suit.
The shooting occurred at East High School, not far from downtown Denver, while two administrators searched a student for weapons, a daily requirement because of the boy’s behavioral issues, authorities said.
“It’s gotta be everybody,” Hancock said on ’s “Rush Hour.” “All hands on deck to figure this out and to do everything we can to keep our students and the faculty and staffs of these buildings safe.”
The administrators who were shot were unarmed, said Denver schools spokesperson Scott Pribble.
According to Education Week, between May 2020 and June 2022, at least 50 school districts serving nearly two million children got rid of school policing programs or cut their budgets.
Many cited racially disproportionate arrest data, arguing the programs fuel a school-to-prison pipeline.
At least eight schools have since reversed course.
“I applaud the mayor or the superintendent or whoever is making the point that we’ve got to bring the officers back in,” said Mo Canady with the National Association of School Resource Officers. “I would also add to that, that in doing that, again, we’re here to help anyone understand that the proper way from a policy standpoint, training standpoint, and selection process, how to properly reinsert those officers back into the school environment.”
In addition to Denver reconsidering distancing itself from school police, Montgomery County, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., which removed police in the 2021-2022 school year, created a new program this school year where officers have offices in schools again but largely patrol around school buildings.
It came in part after a student shot a classmate in a high school bathroom. The victim nearly died.
In Alexandria, Virginia, police in schools stopped patrols the same school year, but administrators brought them back just three months later.
“A parent shouldn’t have to be sitting there at home wondering if our babies are going to come home to us every day,” said one East High School parent. “It is constant PTSD from sending our kids to this school.”
One of the wounded administrators was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and the second was in serious condition, said Heather Burke, a spokesperson for Denver Health hospital.