NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s official. There will be more armed officers at schools in the Carroll Independent School District when classes begin in a few weeks.
Southlake assistant police Chief James Brandon said the group had to consider a number of factors. “They looked at the issue to see what we could do to help enhance the safety of our students and keep it financially sustainable,” he said. “What we did not want to do is have a quick reaction that we later realized we could not continue.”
The issue of school safety was a topic in every Texas school district after the events on December 14, 2012. “After the incident in Newtown, [Connecticut shootings] we really felt an outcry from the community… to keep our children safer in the schools,” Brandon explained.
The additional security measures are more of an extension of the current School Resource Officer (SRO) security program, which Brandon said, “… consisted of one officer in each of the high schools; and then one officer that split time in the middle school.”
The enhanced program includes the addition of seven new SROs, one new full-time [year-round] SRO, and the additional of another officer to oversee the program. “Between the seven SROs we have a total of 184 years of police experience,” Brandon explained. “We have SROs who are former chiefs of police. We have former SWAT officers. We have SROs who have been SROs for 15 and 20 years, in different places. We have SROs that have been involved in city government… just a tremendous amount of experience.”
Classes in the Carroll ISD will begin on August 26 and Brandon said the new employees are ready to go. “Those seven additional personnel have been hired, they have been trained and they will actually be in the schools effective August 19, which is a week before school starts.”
According to Brandon, the officers are intended to have a very visible presence at all 12 Southlake schools. “What we want is for anyone that is even thinking about coming to a Carroll ISD campus, with ill intent [to know] that there is an armed Southlake police officer on that campus waiting for them.”
Funding for the additional personnel was made possible through a half-cent sales tax increase in the Southlake Crime Control and Prevention District.
In addition to keeping students safe the SROs have curriculum goals that hopefully will influence children now and in the future. “For our officers, again using age appropriate content, to start talking to the young people of this community about making the right decisions. They’ll hear anti-drug messages. They’ll hear anti-bullying messages. They’ll hear messages about making good decisions.”
The new SROs, who all have advanced peace officer certificates, will formally be introduced during tonight’s regularly scheduled city council meeting.
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