Sheriff, Re-2 to station officer at CRHS |

Sheriff, Re-2 to station officer at CRHS

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The long arm of the law will be just a short reach away for Coal Ridge High School students and teachers this school year.The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department is planning to station a school resource officer, or SRO, at Coal Ridge beginning this school year.Garfield County commissioners approved a contract providing for a deputy’s hiring this week, and the Re-2 School District board also is expected to OK the plan. The county plans to pick up a quarter of the officer’s salary, benefits, personal equipment and operating expenses, with Re-2 paying for the rest. The county also will provide an equipped vehicle for the officer.The Rifle Police Department supplies an SRO to Rifle High School under a similar arrangement. Re-2 district spokesperson Theresa Hamilton said the district is thrilled to be getting one at Coal Ridge.In seeking approval from county commissioners this week, Sheriff Lou Vallario also spoke of the importance of SROs.”This is the greatest program we’ve ever gotten involved in,” he said.Police and education officials say SROs are a good means of building relationships and trust between students and police officers, as well as enforcing the law within schools. Hamilton said they also can serve as a resource to faculty when classes delve into matters involving the law.Coal Ridge opened two years ago in the Peach Valley area between New Castle and Silt. Classes in Re-2 schools begin Aug. 20, and this will be the first year Coal Ridge will open with students in all four grade levels, from freshman through senior.Hamilton said Re-2 always had intended to place an SRO at Coal Ridge, but the district was busy at first just getting the school opened and then had to work out the logistics with the sheriff’s office.”We’ve wanted to have school resource officers in both of the high schools. Lou’s been great to work with and it’s certainly been a priority for him as well,” she said.Both Vallario and Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson emphasized the importance of SROs in an interview in May, when the Rocky Mountain chapter of the FBI National Academy Association met in Glenwood to discuss shootings and other school safety issues.”They’re not security guards, they’re part of the faculty, part of the culture of the schools,” Vallario said then of SROs.He said there have been crimes that have been discovered only because of the presence of SROs in schools.The officers also are used in some Re-1 schools. Wilson said it’s reassuring to know if a problem arises, there’s someone on the premises who is trained to take steps to protect students and can feed important information to authorities.”They’re seeing it with our eyes,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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