Headlines for March 24, 2023
DPS Leaders Say Yes To The Return Of Armed Police For Denver High Schools
Armed police officers will be back in Denver Public High Schools, at least through the rest of this school year. The Denver School Board unanimously approved that in an emergency session yesterday, in the wake of a shooting at East High School on Wednesday.
Two school administrators were shot by an East High School student while they performed a weapons search on him, based on his student safety plan. One remains hospitalized in serious condition, while the other has been discharged. Wednesday’s shooting came weeks after the shooting death of 16-year-old Luis Garcia who lost his life to gun violence outside of East High.
Thursday’s decision by DPS leaders reverses a decision from three years ago, when the board voted to remove police officers from schools in the wake of protests over the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd.
District leaders said yesterday they are also directing Superintendent Alex Marrero to gather feedback from students, teachers, and parents to shape a long-term safety plan, and submit it to them by June 30th. The board also told Marrero to work with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to externally fund two armed officers and up to two mental health workers at each of the district’s high schools through the rest of the year.
The suspect in Wednesday’s shooting eluded law enforcement throughout the day, but later died in an apparent suicide, according to the Denver Post.
Two Lawmakers Announce Proposed Legislation Banning Ghost Guns As Students Protest At State Capital For A Second Time
Meanwhile up to a thousand students from Denver high schools protested at the state capital Thursday, urging lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation. The protest marked the second time in recent weeks that students have rallied lawmakers for safer schools and gun reform.
Even as the students convened at the capital, Senators Chris Hansen and Rhonda Fields announced they would introduce a bill next week that would ban so-called “ghost guns” in Colorado. Senator Hansen says ghost guns can be ordered online and easily assembled at home. There are no background checks, and the ghost guns don’t have serial numbers, so they cannot be traced.
Multiple law enforcement sources told CBS Colorado that the suspect in Wednesday’s East High Shooting was on probation for a 2021 incident in which he possessed a ghost gun and an extended gun magazine.
The proposed bill would also outlaw 3D switches, which can turn a semi-automatic gun into a fully automatic machine gun. As part of the legislation, Senator Hansen said he is advocating for $1 million in violence prevention grants for schools. Senator Fields said she is working on funding rapid response teams to help school communities deal with trauma.
DPS Cancels Friday Classes Districtwide, Declares Mental Health Day
Denver Public Schools has canceled classes today at all of the district’s schools, in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting. The district says today’s closure will allow students and staff to have a mental health day in light of recent events, including a data breach that unveiled personal information of DPS staff including fingerprints and bank account numbers.
During today’s school closure, DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero says the district will have 14 extended care sites available and will be providing food pickup locations.
Boulder Stamping Out More Encampments Along Boulder Creek
Boulder city crews on Thursday removed more encampments of unhoused people along Boulder Creek. According to the Daily Camera, city crews also did clear-outs of encampments Wednesday along Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue. City officials say on March 17th, Boulder gave the unhoused 72-hour notices to vacate.
The Daily Camera reports Boulder Police, along with security from Boulder Valley School District, have been stepping up patrols after a series of tent fires and propane tank explosions in recent weeks.
Advocates say the clear-outs will force the unhoused to move place to place while Boulder provides limited shelter.
Boulder City Council Covers Downtown Streets Project and Zoning Changes During Study Session
During the Thursday study session by Boulder City Council, council members discussed a downtown project that aims to have a “pop-up” location where cultural events, public art, and other programming can occur on downtown streets starting this year. The Daily Camera reports the idea of the program spun from vehicle street closures that occurred during the height of the pandemic and community members expressing a strong interest for more public space in downtown Boulder. The Daily Camera also reports the “Downtown Streets as Public Spaces” project will culminate into recommendations for long-term changes to Boulder’s downtown.
During Thursday’s night meeting, Boulder’s city council also discussed zoning changes to achieve affordable housing. Among staff recommendations is removing density limits and allowing more duplexes or attached housing in neighborhoods with single-family homes. The city’s senior policy advisor says he plans on bringing the issue before city council in September.
Wyoming Judge Blocks New Abortion Law
A judge in Wyoming has temporarily blocked a new state law that bans abortions in most cases. The Associated Press reports the judge ruled the state cannot take away a constitutional right with legislation. The Wyoming constitution protects an adult’s right to determine their own health care. But the Republican-backed ban says abortion is not health care. Wednesday’s ruling blocks the new law for at least two weeks.