Rise Up Community School wants answers after Denver police searched campus for suspect

DENVER -- Students and teachers at a downtown Denver charter school want answers after Denver police searched their school for a murder suspect. While DPD is defending its actions, the school's principal is questioning their version of events.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Denver Police Department said officers were looking for an attempted first-degree murder suspect and had confirmation from a staff member that the suspect was inside the school. The statement said that given the nature of the allegations, officers believed the suspect posed a possible threat to students and staff.

The statement reads, "officers that were inside did not draw their weapons at any point during the search for the suspect."

However, Rise Up Community School Lucas Ketzer said police never told him there was any threat, and even after he checked and told them the student wasn't in the building, they searched every classroom, even drawing weapons on a teacher who looked out the back door.

"Those lies put the safety of 100 students at risk and those lies are meant for them to save face," said Ketzer. "I want people to be held accountable."

He said the school has spent time and energy making students feel safe, but this has taken that away.

Jack Cousins with Padres & Jovenes Unidos, a nonprofit which advocates for racial justice in education, said his organization has lingering questions about what they call "police overreach" that day. 

Students, advocates and staff will attend the Denver School Board meeting Thursday night to ask for an investigation.

Here is the complete Denver Police Statement: 

Denver, CO – Wednesday, May 16, 2018 – The goal of the Denver Police Department in partnership with Denver Public Schools Safety and Security is to keep students and staff members safe on all school campuses. The Denver Police Department has a strong working relationship with Denver Public Schools administration as well as the safety and security department. On April 24th, 2018, Denver Police officers responded to Rise Up Community School in search of a suspect wanted for attempted first degree murder – this incident occurred the night before in another metro-area jurisdiction. Officers received information that the suspect was in the school, and given the nature of the allegations, believed the suspect posed a possible threat to students and staff.

When officers arrived, they set up outside of the school to ensure the suspect did not leave the building. Given the imminent and potentially dangerous circumstances, and confirmation from a staff member that the suspect was inside, a warrant was not required to search inside the building for the suspect. After working with the principal to eventually gain access to the building, DPD officers conducted a search, but did not locate the suspect. Officers that were inside did not draw their weapons at any point during the search for the suspect. 

Immediately following the incident, the Denver Police Department command staff met with the principal to discuss the situation and offered a follow-up meeting to further discuss the best, safest ways to manage any future incidents. 

Our main goal in any situation involving a school, is to ensure the safety of the students and staff.

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