7 questions for Denver General public Schools’ new safety chief, Greg Cazzell

Denver Community Colleges will before long have a new main of weather and basic safety: Greg Cazzell, who served for 8 a long time as the director of protection for neighboring Aurora Public Educational institutions.

mugshot of a man with a tie and suit jacket

Greg Cazzell

Courtesy Denver General public Educational institutions

The DPS situation had been vacant for 6 months when the district introduced it experienced hired Cazzell, who spent 22 many years with the Glendale law enforcement division prior to functioning in Aurora.

University protection is top rated of thoughts for several Denver college students, families, and educators appropriate now. Shootings in and all-around substantial educational institutions this 12 months have led to university student protests, the development of a mum or dad advocacy group, calls for the school board to resign, a discussion about whether to reintroduce college resource officers, and the improvement of a extended-term safety approach

Chalkbeat spoke to Cazzell Tuesday about his priorities and approach to basic safety in advance of he formally commences the task on July 10. Here’s what he experienced to say.

You’re coming to DPS from Aurora General public Universities and a neighborhood that also has grappled with youth gun violence. What did you study in Aurora that you are going to carry to Denver?

Neighborhood partnerships. Educational institutions can not do it by itself. We have our college students for about 7 hrs and 40 minutes a working day. And which is just not more than enough time. So local community partnerships, family members partnerships, bringing all the stakeholders with each other to deal with some of the problems. 

If it is violence in the neighborhood, it’s impacting our universities. So there’s no really differentiating between the two. Our students are in the local community, they see the violence, they are impacted by the violence. And so it will take not only the school district but nonprofits, group companies, metropolitan areas. It’s all-encompassing.

Is there an case in point of a partnership in Aurora that you’re especially very pleased of?

I think the function that all of our just after-university courses are executing: Boys and Girls Club, COMPASS, Rocky Mountain Children. Those people are all offering some after-university composition that engages the pupils, retains them at the college, retains them safe and portion of that frustrating umbrella. 

And so all of these after-faculty applications, I have experienced fantastic relationships with all a few. And will proceed to, I hope, deliver some of all those around to DPS.

The Denver university board is currently debating irrespective of whether to carry a ban on college useful resource officers and allow police back into faculties. Aurora Community Universities has experienced school resource officers for decades. What is your feeling on SROs?

As you outlined, they’ve been in Aurora Public Colleges for about 20 several years. We have two at every significant university, along with an armed campus basic safety officer. So which is the model that the superintendent and board of instruction in APS has adopted. 

It is a policy conclusion, and so which is some of the debate you are hearing appropriate now in the DPS board meetings. And that will be the way that I follow.

Students bringing weapons to university is a main concern. Some individuals have proposed putting in metal detectors. Aurora has utilized drug-sniffing dogs that could also detect gunpowder residue. What approaches would you propose Denver just take to continue to keep weapons out of colleges?

All of the previously mentioned would be type of a very good answer for that. 

We seriously got to glance at all of our technologies, all of our possibilities that may perhaps be valuable to making certain that we have a safe setting that is conducive to understanding. And that under no circumstances stops. That is usually heading to be challenged. And we require to make positive we’re re-assessing. 

This is not a one-and-completed thorough safety program for DPS. It will have to be evaluated. We’ll have to ascertain what is working, what is not operating. That will be the route forward. 

I really do not believe we need to eradicate any of the options right before us. But again, they are all primarily based on plan and what has the DPS board of education decided.

DPS explained it was searching for a new security main with both “safety and security chops” and “a student-centric attitude.” District management has talked about the great importance of disrupting the faculty-to-jail pipeline. Do you think in that perform? How would you further more that work?

Unquestionably. We will need to make absolutely sure we are not criminalizing adolescent habits. 

So we want to do the job intently with our associates, no matter whether they are the SRO that responds or any additional legislation enforcement part. We need to have to make guaranteed that our workers understand the communities that our college students are coming from, some of the troubles that they are faced with, and comprehension that in depth technique to make certain that we’re not operating in a silo or a bubble. It is vital for us to get that significant check out of the massive photograph and recognize how that impacts the working day-to-day safety natural environment of our colleges.

Why did you want the position in DPS? 

Apart from the sizing of the two districts [Aurora Public Schools has about 39,000 students, while Denver Public Schools has about 88,000], I consider they are pretty related. The socioeconomic makeup [of student families], the no cost and lessened-[price lunch] populace.

I think Aurora is probably a very little additional various than DPS. I know DPS might not want to listen to that, but Aurora is a quite varied local community and we have to have to make confident we are recognizing that diversity, recognizing those people refugee populations — I know they are not limited to Aurora, obviously, but that is been my practical experience — and creating sure they comprehend what our part is in campus basic safety. 

It is vital to have an understanding of we’re not regulation enforcement. We are protection-focused. And they’re coming from nations around the world where they see the uniform and that is what has been oppressive for them. So we have to have to make sure that we’re recognizing that diversity.

In the previous, in DPS and in university districts all above the nation, there has been that disproportionality in self-discipline. Some folks connect with it more than-policing college students of coloration. How do you solution that and mitigate that? 

It’s ongoing. There’s not one answer. 

You need to have to search at that information. You require to make sure you’ve got the ideal persons. If the board chooses SROs, we will need to make absolutely sure that we’re functioning with Denver law enforcement and locating the appropriate SROs that are heading to fit with those colleges, match in with that school culture. Once more, recognizing where by people students occur from, comprehending their track record. And again, generating certain that the SRO, as properly as my staff, is a great in shape for that school. 

It did not come about normally but there had been times when we did go to Aurora law enforcement and say, ‘Hey, this particular person just is not fitting in very well with this college. Let’s glimpse at a distinct candidate to occur on board.’ That may be an option ought to the board approve the SROs.

Once again, my function is all dependent on coverage. And so what ever that final path presented from the board to the superintendent to me, that will be the direction I get protection and safety.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, masking Denver General public Universities. Call Melanie at [email protected].

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