So far in 2019, two school resource officers from the Castle Rock Police Department have helped keep watch over campuses in the town. An officer has covered Castle View High School since an SRO …
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So far in 2019, two school resource officers from the Castle Rock Police Department have helped keep watch over campuses in the town.
An officer has covered Castle View High School since an SRO agreement between the Douglas County School District and Castle Rock was signed in 2006, and the town added a second SRO in 2019 who splits time between Castle Rock Middle School and Mesa Middle School.
But Chief of Police Jack Cauley said the two middle schools have a combined enrollment of roughly 1,900 students, and SROs have a big job. They not only provide security for students but investigate threats, guest lecture in classes, act as informal counselors, assist with drills like lockdowns and forge relationships with local youths, to name some duties.
“So, it keeps that SRO pretty busy,” he said of the middle school officer.
The chief spoke before Castle Rock's town council on July 2 to formally request one additional SRO for the upcoming school year so both Mesa and Castle Rock middle schools could have their own, full-time officer.
Council unanimously approved the chief's request and gave initial approval to a supplemental budget amendment that would fund the officer in 2019, allowing he or she to start in the 2019-20 school year.
The budget request is approved in two readings and expected before council again on July 16.
Cauley said he'd received confirmation from the school district that it would pay approximately half the cost of the SRO, as it has done for years with other SROs working in the district.
The cost of adding the SRO midway through the year will be $61,885 for salary and benefits — to be split by the school district and the town — in 2019, plus a one-time cost of $57,500 for the officer's vehicle.
Town Manager David Corliss said staff is already working on the town's 2020 budget, although it has not yet been considered by council, and he was confident Castle Rock could fund the officer in the next budget year.
“We know that public safety is a priority of the council,” Corliss said.
Compensation for the SRO's salary and benefits for a full-year in 2020 will be $112,000. The officer will be paid by the town. The school district will reimburse the town for its share.
Cauley said the department has experienced officers in mind for the SRO positions. Seven new officers would be sworn in this month who would backfill open positions in the department.
The police department also operates a school marshal program, which began in 2013 after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Two marshals visit Castle Rock's elementary school every day, Cauley said.
“So again, they're highly visible in the schools, they're interacting with the kids,” he said.
The town's SRO conversation arose nearly two months after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch left one student dead and eight more injured. The tragedy spurred a countywide debate over school security and turned some attention to the local SRO program.
Douglas County commissioners offered an ongoing $3 million to fund dozens more SROs in the county, if the money was matched by local schools. Cauley said those dollars were only available to fund Douglas County Sheriff's Office SROs.
Two public high schools primarily serve Castle Rock: Castle View and Douglas County. But only Castle View is technically in town limits. The sheriff's office is the agency that provides an SRO to Douglas County High, which is often thought of as being in Castle Rock but in fact sits on unincorporated county land.
Councilmember George Teal said expanding Castle Rock's SRO program at the chief's recommendation has come up as an item of discussion among council every year, he believed, since he took office in 2014. He thanked Cauley for his leadership on the issue and staff for locating funds in the budget before throwing his support behind the issue.
“I think it's the right thing to do,” he said.
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