Police Officers in Texas Public Schools
By Chealsea Hunt, J310F
Posted Nov. 2, 2015
In the wake of 142 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre, Texas has now joined multiple states in hiring an increased number of campus police officers in public schools. Comal ISD, located 40 miles north of San Antonio, is one school district to have hired its first officers this year.
According to Criminal Justice Program professors Philip Stinson and Adam Watkins, the move to employ campus police has been met nation wide with a mixture of criticism and positivity.
Laurie Mitchell, a teacher for Comal ISD, said this rings true for her district.
Mitchell has been a sixth and seventh grade math teacher for Comal’s Spring Branch Middle School for 15 years. She said that “parents have responded with both enthusiasm and concern” upon learning of the district’s decision to employ an officer.
Lacy Dasch, whose stepson is in 8th grade at Spring Branch, said she feels safer knowing there’s an officer on campus. Her husband, Josh Dasch, remains skeptical.
Mrs. Dasch said, “I believe that having an armed officer at my son’s school would be a deterrent to anyone else that might want to go in with malicious intent.”
Mr. Dasch worries that more incidents will take place similar to the Spring Valley High campus officer throwing a young girl from her desk.
Robert Watson, vice principal of Spring Branch and head of the school’s security, said that steps are being taken to prevent such an incident from occurring in Texas. The screening process undergone prior to an officer’s appointment assures compatibility with the students and the school atmosphere in general.
Deputy Shawn Trevino of the Comal County Sheriff’s Department is currently the officer assigned to Spring Branch Middle School, as well as the father to one of its students.
He said that the nearly 1,000 students he works with have responded well to his presence. “I have a middle age kid, and so I feel as though I am able to relate somewhat [to the demographic].”
Trevino said his job is “mostly about handshakes and fist-bumps”, which Robert Watson verified.
Watson said that a campus officer “is first and foremost a mentor to the kids.” He went on to say that in introducing the students to a positive interaction with law enforcement at an early age, the kids are less likely to turn to delinquency and the number of violent crimes in this country will eventually decrease.
However, Watson said that “safety does of course play a part in Trevino’s employment, as you can never be too safe when it comes to our students.”
Deputy Trevino added to this sentiment, saying “Comal ISD has made a commitment to the safety of our kids, and with that commitment they are going to continually add officers to their campuses.”
“Police presence has proven to be a large deterrent to incidents across the country,” Trevino said,
“whether it be in the form of school shootings or just conflict between parents and staff.”
Laurie Mitchell, who works alongside Trevino daily, said that no matter the official reasons behind the officer’s appointment, “[she] feels safer” having someone on campus who can respond immediately if a threatening situation arises.
Mitchell continued to say that “just watching the kids, you can tell they feel safer having [Deputy Trevino] here. The parents should feel safer too.”