KUSA — Creating relationships goes a long way with Agent Stacey Collis. He’s been the school resource officer at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood for the past 18 years.

“I might be old, but I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to grow up and be a kid,” Collis said.

Although the new school year just started, he’s already up for a challenge.

“I refer to the school as a small city and we’re going to experience the same problems as any small city does,” Collis said. “When we have cases that rise to a level that we have to deal with criminally, we can do that because we are law enforcement.”

In addition to enforcing the law, he works on mentoring and counseling as part of the job. Collis is one of about 250 SROs across the state.

“We really try to build relationships with not only the students and staff, but the community members, parents - just to try bring everybody together and a concerted effort to keep kids safe,” Collis said.

He says the biggest difference between patrolling the streets and walking the halls is handling issues like mediation and crisis intervention at the lowest level.

“We want to make sure that they learn and they don’t do it again, but they don’t have a lifelong issue they have to deal with,” Collis said.

SROs have to take 40 hours of advanced classes on autism, suicide training and even building design.

“It’s really a great feeling to have those kids come back and say thanks,” Collis said. “It’s all about forming relationships and understanding.”