PUEBLO — The new school year is underway at Pueblo School District 60, and a group of school resource officers will be there to make sure kids head safely back to class, but also have positive role models in the school environment.
Every year, the Pueblo Police Department partners with Pueblo D60. As part of the partnership, there are ten school resource officers in the district. There is one officer at every middle and high school, who also rotate going to the elementary schools within D60. Their jobs are to make sure kids stay safe, but more importantly, it's also being a positive influence for local youth.
"Safety and security is always our first priority. We want to be those extra eyes at the school," said Sargeant Nolan Welsh, with the Pueblo Police Department. "It's also about being out here at recess time to talk to the kids and just play ball with them and make those connections, those real personal connections with students every single day."
For Officer Monica Lemmon, being a school resource officer also means much more than just having the title.
"For me, being a school resource officer isn't about writing kids tickets. Really it's the opposite," said Officer Lemmon. "It's also positive interactions and good rapport building, and just letting them know that we're human beings too."
Tori Frye, an 8th grade student at Roncalli STEM Academy, is one of the students who's found a mentor and advice from a school resource officer.
"It makes me feel safe actually, it makes me feel really good that I have someone to talk to," said Frye. "Knowing that all the other kids at this school are safe, it makes me feel good, it makes me feel happy."
The SRO's job is to bridge the gap between the community and the police department, and to also work closely with school staff to ensure schools are safe environments for students to learn.
Every year, SRO's go through training like safety training, mental health training, and active shooter drills. During the school year, they also perform stop-the-bleed demonstrations and talk to kids about bullying or drug use.
This story will be updated with more information soon.