New security chief aims to make District safety efforts model for the country
CASTLE ROCK - After 25 years in law enforcement, Douglas County School District’s new director of Safety and Security says he is excited about the challenge of protecting our 67,000 students.
Richard Payne recently retired from the Colorado Springs Police Department, where he worked in many different capacities, Patrol, a Dare Officer and a Detective in Major Crimes/Homicide unit.
“I was blessed as a law enforcement officer. I was involved in a great organization. I am able to take a lot of the training and experiences that I had in the law enforcement realm and apply those to things that might happen at a school,” Payne said.
In his new position he will be working with schools to implement protocols and training meant to keep our students and staff safe, something he has some experience in. For the past two and half years, he has worked with the Jefferson County School District as a consultant.
He says the part he enjoyed best was working with the staff and students.
“We were welcomed with open arms every time we went into a school,” Payne said.
Often they had a list of questions and a genuine concern for keeping everyone safe.
“Every time we left a school, you felt like, ‘wow, I was really able to help them out.' We could give them some direction. It is overwhelming for a principal or anybody to think through ‘what would I do,' if this really were to happen," Payne said.
The most important thing he tries to convey is safety is not the responsibility of a single person or department.
“Security is everyone’s responsibility,” Payne said. “Every adult and every employee’s responsibility to make sure their building is secure, that they’re acquainted with their surroundings and that their kids are safe.”
He believes that DCSD is already doing many of the right things, when it comes to safety and he hopes to bring additional attention to the mental wellness aspects of safety. He also hopes to provide staff with meaningful training.
“I want Douglas County to be a flagship for the country, when it comes to safety. In the future, we want other districts to model their Safety and security plans after us,” Payne said.
In the end, Payne says he has the same goal that he always did as a law enforcement officer—to bring every one home safely, every day.