Colorado Lawmakers Unanimously Pass SRO Legislation

DENVER—Colorado lawmakers have approved a school safety bill that increases the role of school resource officers (SROs) within the Colorado Safe Schools Act (C.R.S. 22-32-109.1).

Monday, the Colorado House passed Senate Bill 13-138, concerning school resource officer programs, on a unanimous vote. In March, the bill, introduced by State Senator Steve King, was unanimously approved by the Senate. In the House, the bill was carried by Representatives Leroy Garcia and Mike McLachlan.

The measure adds SROs to the list of community partners defined in Colorado law as most essential in helping schools improve their safety plans, train in multi-hazard emergency response, and practice interoperable communications with local first responders. The bill also requires the state to provide school safety grant writing assistance to schools and districts over the next five years.

Asked about the effectiveness of SRO programs, King responded that school principals and superintendents often ask public safety agencies to provide SROs to their schools, and SROs often encounter and must deal with child custody issues, bullying, restraining orders, drugs, crime, gang problems, and suicide prevention. He confirmed that SROs are Certified Peace Officers and are fully armed.

Many testified in support, and none opposed it.

Mo Canady, representing the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), said that it is important for an SRO to be properly selected and trained. He discussed collaboration between NASRO and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). He also spoke about the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers (CASRO).

Alan Ford, noted school architect, stated that SROs can play a valuable and critical role in the process of designing school facilities since SROs understand Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and know what areas of a school building need special attention for safety purposes.

Chris Olson, representing the County Sheriffs of Colorado, spoke about the importance of SROs being part of a school’s faculty and key players in how school incidents are managed in Colorado schools. He said that SROs are normally stationed in middle schools and high schools, but that they should also be stationed in elementary schools.

When Olson explained that SRO funding primarily comes from local law enforcement agencies, Senator Andy Kerr stated that the bill is particularly beneficial to the smaller school districts and smaller law enforcement agencies.

Peg Ackerman, also representing County Sheriffs of Colorado, said that one of the most important aspects of the bill is the requirement to hire a state consultant to help school districts with SRO grant opportunities.

For an overview of CSSRC activities, download this year’s CSSRC Legislative Report at www.SchoolSafetySummit.org/cssrc2012.pdf.  

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