DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — There will be more school resource officers (SROs) in Douglas County this year.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said seven schools have allocated funding needed to provide an SRO for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.
According to Spurlock, the cost to each school is around $65,000. The county covers the remaining amount which is roughly $180,000 annually.
The SROs will be placed in five middle schools and two charter schools, one of which is STEM School Highlands Ranch. That brings the total number of SROs in the county to 28.
The decision came during a county commission meeting about school safety, a few months after a deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
18-year-old Kendrick Castillo was shot and killed trying to stop a gunman from opening fire on his classmates in May.
Castillo’s family was on hand Tuesday to address the Douglas County Commissioners. Kendrick’s father John reminded them of what happened the day his son was killed.
“These perpetrators, when they went in that day, they didn’t care who they killed. They didn’t have any political motivation, they didn’t care about their faith, about their gender, they were there to murder, flat out."
John Castillo is advocating for more school security and mental health resources.
“Maria and I, our devastation is eternal. But there are families that are going to walk with this, with their kids, for the rest of their lives in a different way," John Castillo said. “I don’t have all the answers, just as you don’t have all the of the answers. We’re trying to come together with ideas and think of things that will work.”
Along with the new SROs, seven School Marshal Positions are expected to transition to eight School Resource Officers for Elementary Schools in December 2019.
There will also be two SRO Sergeants and one Juvenile Detective.
The SROs will be employed by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Following the school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, the Douglas County Commissioners set aside $10 million of one-time funding that will go toward improving school security and mental health programs.
Commissioners also unanimously voted to approve $3 million dollars annually for SROs, but the amount must be matched by the school district.
The Douglas County School district will also spend $331,250 annually to provide a Youth Community Response Team. The group will go into all the schools within the district and address the data on juvenile with potential mental health needs. The data is collected through text tips, calls for service, or documented incidents.
Dr. Jim Baroffio is the director of the CRT-Team.
“The bottom line here is that our kids are suffering. Because of this suffering, sometimes they are included to make other suffer." Dr. Baroffio said.
The county commissioners also heard from two committees, one focused on supportive mental health, the other on physical school safety and protection funding. Both committees offered recommendations that will now be looked at by the commissioners. Any programs or resources offered from the committees would be paid for out of the $10 million in one time funding.
The commissioners will meet with the committees to review their recommendations as early as this week.
Kendrick Castillo’s father says he wants son’s memory tied to this tragedy, so that it doesn’t happen to someone else.
“So help me, as long as I live, I am going to be a voice for him. He is going to be the image of this. We are never going to forget him. And I want everyone to know that.” John Castillo said.
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