Last night, in a show of support for the importance of safety of students in our schools, City Council unanimously gave approval for City Manager Greg Caton to proceed with the implementation of plans to increase the number of school resource officers (SRO) in Grand Junction schools to six by adding two full-time officers.
Stakeholders from Mesa County, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, City of Fruita, Town of Palisade, City of Grand Junction, Grand Junction Police Department, and School District 51 met recently to discuss school safety issues, as well as to collaborate on ideas of how to strengthen our efforts to protect students in Mesa County.
Currently, there are a combined total of seven school resource officers serving 44 elementary, middle, and high schools in Mesa County. The Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, and Fruita Police Department all have dedicated SRO positions. Additionally, School District 51 employs four armed security staff. District 51 has plans to expand and increase staffing for their campus safety program, and local law enforcement hopes to add to their School Resource programs, as well, in the coming months.
While School Resource Officers and District school security officers work closely and collaboratively, there are notable differences in their roles. Security services, like the firm used by District 51, are intended to provide a security presence at events or public areas. These services offer both armed and unarmed personnel, depending on the perceived level of threat to the public. Unlike these security services, school resource officers provide law enforcement services, critical incident response, and perform investigations. In addition to these core duties, SRO programs form relationships with students and build trust within the community. The officers act as a resource for students, the families of students, and District staff. They are a critical link between law enforcement and the safety of the public within District schools. Unlike hired security firms, school resource officers receive specialized training and are capable of responding to the types of incidents that might occur in schools. SRO programs are proven to be valued within communities and an effective method by which police departments can address school safety.
District 51 plans to resurrect a committee of invested community members and stakeholder representatives to gather feedback from the public, parents, and school staff.
City Manager Greg Caton expressed the City of Grand Junction’s commitment to expanding the school resource program while reiterating this is a county wide issue which will require a comprehensive and collaborative effort across jurisdictional and district boundaries.
It is clear to all involved that our community holds these organizations accountable for the safety of children in our community, and we are committed to answering that call. Work will continue to focus on finding solutions and looking for ways to improve.
Contact: Sam Rainguet, Communications Manager 970-244-1507 or firstname.lastname@example.org