SOUTHLAKE (CBS 11 NEWS) - An armed police officer could be in every school in Southlake by the fall, at no cost to the Carroll Independent School District. A task force of city, school and private stakeholders recommended the plan, just three months after reexamining school safety following the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The plan will expand Southlake's current roster of three school resources officers, to 12. One will be dedicated to each campus in the city, including Florence Elementary School which is in the Keller ISD. Only the city's two high schools have resource officers now. A third officer splits time between the middle schools. Officers at elementary schools would be less than full time under the plan, 32 hours a week, and be off during the summer when school is out.
The city's Crime Control and Prevention District has already approved the use of half-cent sales tax funds to cover the additional $700,000 cost for personnel and equipment. Training is expected to be minimal, with Police Chief Steve Mylett saying he will be looking for veteran officers able to connect with kids.
"They will stay within this assignment," he said, describing the role of officers who will be less than full time. "They will not move throughout the police department. They are being hired for a specific purpose."
Mylette said full time officers could be used in other capacities during the summer months.
Southlake's city council members expressed broad support for the plan Tuesday night. It will be required to pass a budget amendment to use $190,000 from the CCPD for this fiscal year, but Mylett said he will begin working out the details of implementing the plan immediately.
Both city and school officials noted the unique partnership between two entities that don't always cooperate in other cities.
"There is no line between city and school district when it comes to the safety and well-being of our school kids," said Mayor John Terrell. "It is something we have to partner."
Carroll ISD board president Reed Ballew said the task force discussed how much of the plan the district could afford to finance. He said the city though, took on the role of protection, while CISD focused on overall student well-being.
"The city has taken on the physical police duty responsibility, the physical safety and security." He said. "Whereas the district looked at the student as a whole."
Terrell initiated discussion of the issue almost immediately following the Newtown shooting in December. The task force held its first meeting one week later. Private security, area pastors and parents were all included in the discussion of several models of enhanced security. CISD is investing in infrastructure improvements Terrell said, though they won't specify exactly how for security reasons.
The task force expects the dedicated nature of each officer to a single campus to also build a connection with students, reduce the likelihood of drug and alcohol use and proactively cut down on safety issues within the schools.
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