AHS welcomes new School RESOURCE Officer

New SRO, Cam Daniel, strives to be a resource rather than disciplinarian.

Cam Daniel, Aspen High School's new School Resource officer, posing for a photo outside of the AHS building.

Photo courtesy of the Aspen Times

Cam Daniel, Aspen High School’s new School Resource officer, posing for a photo outside of the AHS building.

AHS is welcoming a new School Resource Officer (SRO), Cam Daniel, a former addiction counselor and Sheriff deputy who is determined to be a resource to students rather than a disciplinarian.

AHS hired Daniel as the new SRO during summer break. For the past three years, he worked as a Pitkin County Sheriff deputy. Before becoming a deputy, Daniel was an addiction counselor at YouthZone and worked at Valley View Hospital’s Youth Recovery Center, where he helped treat kids with addiction and mental health issues.

Through his experience at YouthZone and the Youth Recovery Center, Daniel discovered he wanted to help reform law enforcement.

“I wanted to bring a new light to law enforcement and some of the ways they [police] work with people with addiction and mental health issues,” Daniel said.

Daniel believes being the SRO is the perfect blend of his previous profession and law enforcement. He believes he can be a resource for teens as he has seen the depths of addiction and behavioral issues and understands the daily struggles of teenage life. Daniel approaches situations with empathy rather than discipline.

“My approach has always been to understand where kids are coming from. I was kind of a troubled kid growing up, so I get that each person has their reasons as to why they are struggling. Opposed to me coming in and trying to fix it, I genuinely try to see where they are coming from and hear them out.” Daniel said. “I just treat people the way I would hope someone would treat me.”

Emma Chiles, a former AHS student, worked with Daniel during her sophomore year through the YouthZone program. She formed a strong connection with him that continued beyond the program. During Chiles sophomore year of College, she reached out to Daniel for help with difficulties she was facing.

”He’s a very cool guy, super easy to talk to, and very accepting. He’s not judgmental at all,” Chiles said. “He went above and beyond at his job and truly helped me.”

The director of Valley View’s Hospital’s Youth Recovery center, Janeil Sowards, feels that Daniel will be an asset to AHS due to his work ethic and empathetic nature.

“Cam is simply phenomenal. He’s very helpful, social, honest, empathetic, and a good motivator. He’s got a great personality, and he’s good with teenagers. He works well with everybody,” Sowards said.

Lori Mueller, the Executive Director of YouthZone, believes Daniel will strive to connect with the students and engage with the community.

“You guys [the students] are gonna have so much fun with him [Daniel]! He really wants to get to know the kids and be engaged and be a part of the community,” Mueller said.

With the prevalence of police brutality throughout the U.S. and the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Daniel hopes to help repair the damaged relationship between cops and citizens.

“I’d like to see relationships between how people view cops improve. And have people not look at me disciplinarian, but rather a resource for someone to come talk to.”

Daniel aspires to create an atmosphere of transparency between himself and the community at AHS, and be a resource to students and faculty.

“I hope that everyone, whether it’s teachers or students, comes and talks to me. I want them to know I’m a resource that is trying to help and not just trying to get someone in trouble. I want to problem-solve and figure out what we can do to utilize resources within the community to help someone before we use law enforcement as a last means,” Daniel said.