GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
It’s been more than a week since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and as the community of Uvalde mourns for all the innocent lives taken, fear, confusion, and anger ripples across the nation and millions of parents ask the same two questions: Why did officers wait, and it could it happen here? Sheriff Todd Rowell says, “Our current standard is shelter in place for the school, and law enforcement officers immediately go to the threat.”
Sheriff Rowell says school resource officers inside the buildings of District 51 schools are trained to national standards, which he says isn’t standard elsewhere. “We’ve seen some schools, or school districts pull their SRO’s (school resource officer) out of the school,” said Rowell. “That hasn’t happened here in Mesa County.”
Grand Junction Police also say they have boots on the ground geared towards protecting children at school. Callie Berkson, spokesperson for the department says, “The Grand Junction Police Department does partner with School District 51, as well as CMU, and we have officers on both campuses patrolling, and having a presence.”
But, will it be enough? After a stabbing took place right across the street from Grand Junction High School in October of 2019, an interview with a District 51 board member shared some startling information. “We have 71 entry points. Kids can leave the building, and not be monitored, or staff may not know where they are,” said Board Member Doug Levinson in an interview with KREX in October 2019.
At last report, the new GJHS building will have only three entry points. The security team at D51 currently uses the Dewey Cornell threat assessment from 2018, that’s used when an individual threatens to commit violence or engages in threatening behavior. Now, a school safety committee meeting is scheduled as soon as next week with D51 ,and multiple law enforcement agencies in the Grand Valley. “We’re meeting to discuss what are some of our voids, what could we do better,” said Sheriff Rowell.
Because at the end of the day, all that truly matters is our kids are safe, no matter what it takes to keep them safe. “We will continue to evaluate our protocols, as well as our training for those officers who are on those campuses to make sure that that safety stays top notch,” said Berkson. Sheriff Rowell says, “I have kids in our public school system. Many of the people who work here in law enforcement also have kids, and we’re invested in doing what’s right to keep our children safe.