School Resource Officers Aren’t Just Here to Respond to Campus Crime


Meron Banjaw

SRO Superviser Steve Nelson talks with sophomore Deeksha Amarala. “We’re not here to try to remind you that bad things happen; we’re here to be a resource,” Nelson said. “But we also try to walk around with a smile on our face.”

Nour Kreishan and Meron Banjaw

There are a handful of people on Cherry Creek’s campus carrying guns every day. They’re Creek’s School Resource Officers (SRO) with the purpose of keeping students and staff safe, along with being informal counselors to anyone struggling. 

Creek shares SROs with Campus Middle School, but Creek has three predominant officers with the main intent of ensuring the safety of students and staff.

“We’re not here to try to remind you that bad things happen; we’re here to be a resource,” SRO Supervisor Steve Nelson said. “But we also try to walk around with a smile on our face.”

SROs want to be seen as informal counselors and trusted mentors in the eyes of Creek’s students. 

“I would hope that us being in the schools isn’t necessarily just simply because we’re here to make sure that if something happens, we’ll be there to protect you,” SRO Riley Altenbourg said. “Obviously that’s our job, but another really big part of our job and reason we’re here is to be proactive.”

SRO Max Addante attended Creek as a teen and has seen how school security has changed. Although the SROs on our campus are here to protect us, they do not want their presence on campus to symbolize the potential of a school shooting.

“When I went to school here, we didn’t have an active shooter response, we didn’t have a lockdown drill; now we do those, and so it’s really disheartening,” Addante said. “It sucks that parents are worried that they’re dropping their kids off and [think], ‘today could be the day that I get that phone call.’”

The safety along with the mental well-being of students is something SROs take into consideration while combating school shootings across the country.

“I think when it comes to safety in schools, mental health is the frontline,” Nelson said. “Some kids just don’t have a real good foundation.”

SROs want students to not only trust that they will keep Creek safe, but also to trust that they will support all students and be there as mentors through any hardships students are going through. 

“We’re here to just make sure you guys are safe, and even though I wear a uniform and everything, I still want to make it so that I interact with each one of you as if you were my own child, and I’m going to take care of my child,” Altenbourg said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure that when you leave our interaction, you’re going to be smiling.”