Some of the most important people in Cherry Creek schools are not students or teachers; they are School Resource Officers or SROs. They are local law enforcement officers who work long-term assignments in Cherry Creek middle and high schools, where they develop strong relationships with students, staff members and the community. SROs are an integral part of the Cherry Creek School District’s Comprehensive Safe Schools Plan.
“SROs are paramount in making our students and staff members feel safe inside our schools,” said Randy Councell, director of safety and security for Cherry Creek Schools.
The district recognized these dedicated professionals at a breakfast celebration on Oct. 20 at the Student Achievement Resource Center (SARC). Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, thanked the officers for their service and the commitment they make to connecting with kids.
“We have kids who interact with you. They get to know you as people,” Bull said. “I am so appreciative of the fact that our kids are in good hands.”
Cherokee Trail High School Principal Kim Rauh agrees.
“SROs serve an incredible role within our schools. Not only do they ensure the safety of students and staff, but they build positive relationships with our students, staff, parents and community,” Rauh said.
The district has 22 School Resource Officers from the Aurora, Cherry Hills Village and Greenwood Village police departments and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department. To become an SRO, officers must request the assignment and go through specialized national training that focuses on police work in a school setting, working as a resource and problem solver and developing teaching skills. The officers are paid by their departments but work out of offices in Cherry Creek middle and high schools.
Officers who choose to become SROs usually have a common interest.
“I love working with kids,” said Officer Ken Hernandez, a member of the Aurora Police Department who is a SRO at Smoky Hill High School. “They bring so many different things, come from different walks of life. They come to talk to you and you end up gaining their trust and that’s the best part.”
“It’s building the rapport with staff and schools as well as kids and that helps build rapport with the community,” said Aurora Officer Dan Smick. As an SRO at Smoky Hill, he also works with students at Laredo Middle School. He says watching students grow is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. “Seeing a kid as a sixth-grader and watching how they develop into a graduating senior, how they go from being shy to being outgoing and exuberant - it’s great.”
For more information about safety and security in the Cherry Creek School District, visit http://www.cherrycreekschools.org/SafeSchools/Pages/default.aspx.