By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4)– Students in Denver Public Schools are starting the new year without school resource officers, this after the school board voted to end their contract with the Denver Police Department. This is the first year with all the officers removed from campus, but the district will not be lacking in security.

(credit: CBS)

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“I’m a Denver Public Schools Patrol Officer,” Nicholas Vasu said.

Vasu and about 20 other DPS patrol officers respond to calls for service and carry a gun, but they are not sworn police officers and they are not assigned to be in any of the schools.

“I’m able to say, ‘I’m a Denver Public Schools employee, the same district as your teacher, your principal, your coach’ and that changes things, they’re kind of like, ‘Oh OK,’” Vasu said.

He will however be able to cite students for over a dozen minor infractions.

(credit: CBS)

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Michael Eaton, the Chief of the Department of Safety for DPS, made the request to give them that authority over the summer.

“They approved that delegation and now the Department of Safety, who are district employees, can have the discretion on low-level municipal infractions that occur on how that’s handled,” said Eaton.

That is raising concerns among those who supported the removal of School Resource Officers, who did so to limit student interaction with the criminal justice system for minor offenses.

“We have to be intentional about reducing the school to prison pipeline, and not write tickets to students unless all other opportunities for intervention have been exhausted.”

Vasu says it’s part of the reason he signed up for the job.

(credit: CBS)

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“I make mistakes, kids absolutely make mistakes, teenagers absolutely make mistakes, and we don’t want one mistake when you’re 15, 16, 17 to affect you for the rest of your life,” Vasu said.

Karen Morfitt