Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Promise Made Is a Promise Kept: School Safety Task Force Initiatives Move Forward

Earlier this year, the City committed to working with school and law enforcement professionals to find new ways to strengthen and enhance school safety in Southlake schools.

Task Force Member list“I’ve said before that our most precious resource deserves our best efforts. We made a promise to do more to protect our children, and with the work of this partnership, we’re ready to deliver,” said Mayor Laura Hill.

The Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) is funding $550,000 to support the implementation of new safety and security initiatives.

Changes that will come to schools include two additional SROs at the high schools, rifle-rated protected glass and video intercoms for each school with the ability to see and screen anyone coming into the school. Additional initiatives are underway to protect Southlake schools that are not made public, for security purposes.

“Once implemented, some of the changes will be easy to see when you visit the schools,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “And some people won’t see, but that’s by design. The safety and security of our students is our top priority. Parents can rest assured knowing we’re going to do everything we can to keep their children safe.”

For more information on School Safety in Southlake please visit CityofSouthlake.com/SchoolSafety.

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Parents, School Officials and Police Discuss School Safety Concerns at Recent SPARK Meeting

On March 29, the Southlake Police Department joined Carroll ISD officials and participated in the SPARK Community Panel on School Safety. More than 100 community members met at The Marq Southlake to be a part of the discussion.

Police Chief James Brandon and Superintendent Dr. David Faltys, along with School Resource Officers, school counselors, principals and other school officials were on hand to answer questions.

Chief Brandon called the night a great exchange of information. “It was an honor to be a part of the panel. I was especially appreciative of the thoughtful and engaging questions provided by the parents in attendance. While recent events in Parkland, Florida have created more questions about school safety, the Southlake Police Department School Resource Officers (SROs) are a dedicated to doing everything they can to achieve the highest standards of safety and security in every Carroll ISD school,” said Chief Brandon.

The night offered the opportunity for the Police Department to learn more about what concerns parents and what the department can do to support their efforts. The Southlake SRO program has been in place since 2005, and in 2013 expanded to include all Carroll ISD schools.

“These are dedicated police officers who make it a point every day to teach, mentor and protect. I believe we have a great team in place and parents should always feel free to reach out to me or their campus SRO if questions arise,” said Chief Brandon.

For more information on our the Southlake Police SRO program please go to CityofSouthlake.com/SouthlakeSROs

SRO infographic for MSN

SPARK Offers School Safety Community Conversation

For the City of Southlake, community conversations about school security have been going on since 2012 and on March 28, that dialog will continue with a special SPARK meeting at The Marq Southlake starting at 7:00 p.m.

“Since the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, as a community, we have actively pursued through action and words better protection and security in our schools,” said Mayor Laura Hill. “This opportunity will further that conversation with parents about what they can do at home talking with their kids, and what we can do as a community.”

From its inception in 2007, SPARK has created a safe place for Southlake parents to have honest and sometimes tough conversations. Topics range from drugs and alcohol abuse to self-harm and suicide.

“Carroll ISD is proud to be a strong partner with SPARK and the City of Southlake Police Department,” said Carroll ISD Superintendent Dr. David Faltys. “I’m looking forward to taking part in this meeting so we can learn from each other and talk about ideas for the future.”

Mayor Hill will moderate the discussion with Police Chief James Brandon and Dr. Faltys serving as panelists. Also in attendance, the Southlake DPS School Resource Officers as well as the principals and counselors from many of the CISD schools.

“In this day and age having an open discussion about what school safety means for our kids is so important,” Hill added. “The City and CISD have dedicated a vast amount of time and resources to creating a safe environment. Combine that with actively involved parents, that’s a force that’s hard to beat.”

The parents-only panel discussion takes place March 28 at The Marq Southlake, 285 Shady Oaks, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Finding Southlake's School Resource Officers

Just weeks after the Southlake City Council approved a plan to place a School Resource Officer in every Carroll school, the selection process has begun.

“We were given a mission by the City Council and the families of Southlake,” said Assistant Police Chief James Brandon.  “Now it is time to find the officers who will not only add another layer of safety and security to our schools, but also help provide support and encouragement to Carroll students.”

The placement of SROs in the Carroll schools was the result of a recommendation by a safety and security task force headed up by Southlake Mayor John Terrell.  Other task force members include Carroll School Board President Read Ballew, SPARK representative Laura Hill, Southlake Police Chief Steve Mylett as well as state, and federal law enforcement officials.   The task force was created after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut.

“The hiring criteria of the Southlake SROs is specific, any applicant must have an advanced TCLEOSE designation,” said Human Resource Director Stacey Black.   Black worked with Assistant Chief Brandon and Chief Mylett to create the job description and work scope.  Much of it was based on the task force’s recommendations and Brandon’s and Mylett’s years of police experience.

“It’s a different kind of police work that’s why it will take a special kind of officer to be successful in this role,” said Chief Mylett.  “They will have to be willing to forge relationships and make investments into the students’ lives and their wellbeing.  It’s about helping create an environment where kids can learn and thrive and feel safe doing it. That’s why we will only hire the best of best.”

Once the applicants are hired, Assistant Chief Brandon says that the officers will go through a week-long specialized training that will focus on the safety and security needs of the school environment.  Not long after that training is over, the officers will then help open up the 2013-2014 school year on August 26th.

The enhanced SRO program will be funded primarily through the Crime Control and Prevention District; a voter approved local sales tax allotment that funnels 1/2 cent of every sales tax dollar into a fund designated for safety and security initiatives.  The City’s general fund will also contribute towards the program’s costs.