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Since the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, local school districts’ police departments have been looking at their policies and procedures to ensure the security of their campuses.
It is something districts do routinely, but given the scrutiny placed on the Uvalde CISD Police Department’s response to the deadly shooting spree, departments across Texas are examining what they have in place and making changes where they believe necessary.
“We’re in the process of doing it again just to make sure everything is secured up,” Brazosport ISD Police Chief Wade Nichols said. “As of right now, we’re not changing anything because ours is up to date and is explicit as to what we do.”
Brazosport ISD officers have been taking their annual active shooter classes and plan on attending another safety class soon, he said.
“We’re taking a breaching class for physical and mechanical breaching that includes tools,” Nicholas said. “We have an emergency response plan for every school, so we’re good.”
Brazosport’s ISD jurisdiction includes campuses from the coast to FM 2004 in Lake Jackson, and when an incident occurs, the person in charge of the scene is clear, Nicholas said.
“I am in command,” Nichols said.
Danbury ISD is modifying its procedures for staff, district Police Chief Shane Bracken said.
“That’s where I’m starting from,” he said. “It’s more about holding our staff accountable to being in charge after the safety of themselves and the kids. So this summer, I’m moving cameras around to get better school coverage; we’re also trying to get a vestibule so people can be vetted before entering the school.”
Vestibules are used for security to have visitors sign in and go through the main office instead of being able to walk directly into the school hallways, Bracken said.
The district’s buildings also have been rekeyed and the doors secured, which wasn’t the case before Bracken got there a year ago, he said.
“I got a good debriefing on the Uvalde situation and picked it apart and tried to find areas I could improve myself, such as access cards issued to all of the neighboring law enforcement that would be the ones to respond to an emergency in our district,” Bracken said.
In the event of an assault on campus, Brazosport ISD has a memorandum of understanding with other departments, Nichols said.
“If something does happen, the sheriff’s office could come in and take over the investigation because they have more resources,” he said. “If someone comes on campus as a threat, we are going to the threat. I tell my guys that every year. We are a full-fledged police department just like any other police department, and our job is to stop a threat on campus.”
The Sweeny ISD Police Department last updated its response plan in 2019 and reviews it yearly, Chief Marcus Way said.
“All faculty and staff are trained in the (Standard Response Protocol) at the start of every school year,” Way said. “In addition to the SRP, Sweeny ISD utilizes the Raptor emergency management application to assist campus administration, teachers and law enforcement while managing an incident.”
Sweeny ISD introduced the Raptor app last school year, and it facilitates student accountability and faculty communication during an incident, he said.
“Sweeny ISD also has a multi-hazard emergency response plan that covers multiple emergencies, including those that could occur due to the surrounding chemical facilities,” Way said.
Sweeny ISD officers are certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and are required to complete continuing education hours per TCOLE requirements, Way said.
“Being school-based law enforcement officers, Sweeny ISD Police officers are required to obtain the School-Based Law Enforcement certification from the Texas School Safety Center and TCOLE,” Way said. “This additional training is provided by the Texas School Safety Center at different locations throughout the state. Sweeny ISD Police Officers have trained in active attack or active shooter scenarios as well as laws that are specific to school-based law enforcement.”
Because of the wide range of jurisdictions, the Brazosport ISD Police Department shares procedures with other schools.
If someone calls 911 from their cell phone, it will bounce off the nearest cell tower, he said.
“We have set precedence throughout the county on our safety and security procedures,” Nicholas said. “We have shared them with numerous other ISD PDs, some from our county and some from out of the county.”
As for Danbury ISD, Bracken dispatches through the sheriff’s department so that department would get the call then radio him, he said.
The Sweeny ISD Police Department does the same, Way said.
“We are tied into the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center,” he said. “Each officer has police radio communication with the sheriff’s office dispatch center and supports our daily mission.”