Sheriff’s office to pick up school-cop duties from Aurora police amid staffing shortage

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Officer DeDiemar walks through the halls of Overland High School as part of his daily rounds as a School Resource Officer at Overland in this 2019 file photo.  File photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel

AURORA | Deputies from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office will replace Aurora police officers previously tasked with monitoring thousands of local students in three high schools in the Cherry Creek School District, officials announced Tuesday.

Deputies from Sheriff Tyler Brown’s office will take the reins from local cops who had been assigned to work as school resource officers, or SROs, in Grandview High School, Cherokee Trail High School and Smoky Hill High School in Aurora. Each of those Cherry Creek hubs serve more than 2,000 students.

“By placing two deputies in each of these schools, students, staff and SROs will continue the atmosphere of trust and respect with one another which will result in less crime and keeping students and staff safe,” Brown said in a statement.

SROs from the sheriff’s office already patrol Eaglecrest High School and nearly two dozen additional elementary and middle schools in the Cherry Creek School District, according to a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.

The move comes as Aurora police are facing critical staffing shortages spurred by an exodus of veteran officers.

Only about 630 officers are currently fully trained and able to work, Deputy Chief Darin Parker said last month. About 70 personnel are still in training and cannot work by themselves, and other 40 or so are on some form of inhibited duty due to illness, injury, involvement with a contentious incident or military leave.

The department is budgeted to employ 744 sworn officers.

More than 100 officers have left the department so far in 2021, surpassing the previous high-water mark of 87 departures last year. The department shedded about 60 officers in both 2018 and 2019, data show.

Aurora police recently rejiggered budgeting for department’s current SROs, moving the entire unit from the community relations division to the purview of the agency’s southern district three, according to budget documents. The move added 10 workers to the latter department and shed 18 staffers from the former.

“I appreciate the ability to build on the existing partnership we have with Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown and his deputies to ensure the service to our schools is (not) impacted due to staffing shortages,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a statement.

Cherry Creek Superintendent Christopher Smith also lauded the shift.

Last summer, the board of education serving Denver Public Schools voted to remove all SROs from the city’s schools.

The Aurora City Council will decide whether to continue the recently shifted SRO duties via an intergovernmental agreement slated to go before lawmakers in January. It will be among the first votes to go before the organ that is guaranteed to net at least four new members following the municipal election in November.

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Doug King
Doug King
1 month ago

at least the two departments are working it out (though I can’t imagine the conservatives standing by for a Democratic Sheriff placing his Deputies in their schools, heaven forbid!)

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug King

I got news for them: Heaven did not forbid.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

Very appropriate in these days.