School resource officer joins Summit School District
Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Finley is 1st officer based in schools since start of COVID-19 pandemic
Summit County has a new school resource officer. Summit County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Patrick Finley will serve all schools in the Summit School District while being based out of Summit High School.
In addition to Summit High School, Finley serves Snowy Peaks, Summit Middle School, Dillon Valley Elementary and Summit Cove Elementary.
The Sheriff’s Office is actively looking for a second officer to join Finley. The second officer will also serve the entire district but be based out of Summit Middle School.
The Sheriff’s Office had dedicated school resource officers before the COVID-19 pandemic, but lost them after schools closed down and the Sheriff’s Office was struck by staffing shortages. Before the pandemic, the officers worked to protect the schools and educate students. One former school resource officer taught a class on criminal justice at the high school.
“They’ve acted as mentors. They’ve acted as life coaches. They’ve acted as tutors,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said.
In addition to administrators and educators, the officers will develop relationships with students which, FitzSimons said, have historically lasted from elementary school through high school graduation. That sort of relationship can help mitigate crime and violence in schools, he said.
Considering the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, FitzSimons said having an officer on the ground at a school is important. Even when alone, FitzSimons said Summit County deputies are taught to enter the school as soon as possible. For this reason, all deputies learn the layout of each school’s campus.
Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Finley was a trooper for the Colorado State Patrol; corporal for the Highland Village Police Department in Highland Village, Texas; and sergeant for the Breckenridge Police Department. He comes to the department with 18 years of service in law enforcement.
Finley became aware of his interest in working with students in Texas. He assisted teaching a law enforcement teaching students program in middle schools there. After his move to Breckenridge, he continued to work with students through the drug abuse resistance education program, teaching students at Upper Blue and Breckenridge elementary schools.
Finley already met with staff members and students at each school he serves, the Sheriff’s Office reported. He joined students for bike-to-school days, visited classrooms at Dillon Elementary, spoke about how students can have a fun and safe summer and ate lunch with Summit High School students, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
He also joined the Summit High School graduation and celebrated the end of the school year with the other schools he serves. Though he was brought on just before the end of the school year, the Sheriff’s Office also announced Finley will involve himself throughout the county during the summer, as well as training through the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers and the National Association of School Resource Officers.
A second officer will likely be on board as the fall semester begins, FitzSimons said. Applications for school resource officer can be found at SummitCountyCO.gov/SOJobs#sro.
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