Monday, June 14, 2021

City Works to Enhance School Safety

The City of Southlake working with Carroll ISD and law enforcement professionals is looking at new ways to strengthen enhance school safety in all Carroll ISD schools.

“Our most precious resource deserves our best efforts which is why I have discussed with the Southlake Crime Control and Prevention District, funding of more than $500,000 in the coming year to support the exploration and implementation of new, innovative safety and security initiatives at Southlake schools,” said Mayor Laura Hill.

(Click the play button for Mayor Laura Hill’s message about School Safety)

History of SRO Program

In early 2013, after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the School Resource Officer program was expanded at the recommendation of a City of Southlake-CISD-Parent task force. By the start of the 2013-2014 school year, specially-trained officers were in place at each CISD elementary school and intermediate school in addition to the officers at the middle schools and high schools.

Much of the $1,000,000 funding for these officers is from the Crime Control and Prevention District portion of the City’s sales tax. In 2015, voters re-authorized the district for 20 years helping to ensure the future of SRO program and other safety initiatives.

2017-2018 School Year

“The success of our SRO program can really be seen in the day to day interactions with CISD students,” said Police Chief James Brandon.  “New investment will only further their mission keep our kids safe and focused on learning.”

In the 2017-2018 school year, the Southlake SROs have participated in more than 4,000 school patrol hours, 850 student meetings, 550 coach or mentoring hours, 450 parent meetings, 90 SRO led student classes, and 40 community presentations.

“All of these efforts have resulted in zero student citations,” said Chief Brandon. “I look forward to working with CISD, and our law enforcement community so that we can continue to see these types of outcomes in Southlake schools and students can learn and have fun without worrying too much about their safety.”

For more information on the City’s SRO program, please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/SROs.

Thank You For Keeping Us Safe: An Insight Into Southlake Carroll High’s SRO

School Resource Officer David Tatsak finishes up some notes for an upcoming presentation at his desk.  His office is located in the heart of Carroll High School at 800 North White Chapel  Boulevard, his door blends in with other administrators, save for a sticky note that reads “THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US SAFE.”  He glances at his watch and walks into the hallway.

“I want the students to be familiar with police before they graduate, because that’s an education in itself,” he says.

In a time of school shootings and increasing violence on campuses, trust in an armed School Resource Officer could very well be the difference between life and death.  Officer Tatsak and the administration pride themselves in that they can evacuate the school in and out quickly.  They have active shooter protocols that include locking the door, covering the door window with a piece of felt (found on every door), getting away from the doors and windows, and being silent.  During the drills, Officer Tatsak will patrol up and down the hallway, making sure the rules are followed and ensuring there is silence.  If an active shooter were on campus, they’d want to kill as many students and faculty as possible and loud talking or giggling could give away locations.  But today is just a normal day.

Students and teachers often leave Officer Tatsak notes of appreciation.

With a few minutes before the class change, Officer Tatsak finds a spot to stand where he will be as visible as possible.  He knows the rooms and the maze-like hallways of the school like the back of his hand.  After all, he’s the front line of defense for over 1,400 students and 100 teachers and staff.  Today he stands in the main foyer on the first floor, coffee in hand.  The halls are empty, but that will change in a moment.

With the sheer amount of students here, there are of course students that he knows better than others.  Since the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Officer Tatsak has worked about 20 cases.  Those have primarily included drugs, truancy, and fake IDs.  He also has five documented cases of bullying so far.

The administration and Officer Tatsak are aware of the students that cause the biggest issues.  To prevent escalation, he makes sure to check on them two to three times a day, always greeting them, and always calling them by name.  He’ll monitor their social media, talk to parents if need be, and make an extra effort to nurture the relationship.  He’ll get them involved in projects he’s working on like the upcoming mock accident presentation called “Game Over.”  Not only will the student be involved with the project, but Officer Tatsak will give them ownership in it, which brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.

For some, Officer Tatsak is the first time to interact daily with a police officer up close and personal.  They can see his very real gun and his very real body armor.  Many students only know about cops from what television and movies and gossip have told them.  That cops are shooting unarmed minorities.  That they’re kicking in doors every 911 call.  That they write oodles and oodles of speeding tickets up Davis Boulevard.  But Officer Tatsak, like every cop, is aware of these perceptions, and he’s made it his mission to change them.

“I always aim to nurture the kids, though it’s not always the warm and fuzzy variety,” he says.  “Game Over” is a good example of Officer Tatsak getting real with the students.  He coordinates the two day event, in which a mock distracted driving or DWI crash is played out in front of students.  This year, the fictional crash involves a student actor who will play a popular, most likely to succeed kind of guy.  He’ll be drunk or distracted and crash and kill a teacher.  With the gravity of these situations, Officer Tatsak doesn’t hold back.  As the student council writes the script, he orders B&B Wrecker Service to bring in totaled cars, he schedules Careflight, the Medical Examiner, and Southlake Fire to all come out, and he preps makeup techs to make sure to show the true gore and chaos of an accident scene.  To further illustrate the fact that every quarter hour someone is killed by distracted driving or DWI, he sends in a Grim Reaper to pull students out of class every 15 minutes.

Officer Tatsak has been a police officer for over 18 years and has seen it all.  “His ability to communicate lessons to the student body in a way that’s honest and open is the key to his success,” says Chief James Brandon.  “He’s taught about the dangers of social media, internet safety, distracted driving, and the perils of drugs and alcohol.  Working with the students face to face helps build the bonds of trust and further show he is there for them.  If they have a problem, the know where to find him.”

The tone signaling the class change sounds, and the hallways fill with an endless sea of students.  Officer Tatsak doesn’t miss a beat and he greets students by their name, giving a fist bump here and a high five there.  These are his kids, and he’ll die to protect them.

Officer Tatsak works on reports in his office.

 

School Resource Officers: That’s a Year!

As you know, the school year is over and summer has begun. Let’s take a moment to recognize our wonderful School Resource Officers for providing your children with a safe and enriched school year.

The SROs work in partnership with Carroll Independent School District (CISD) to teach students valuable lessons on various topics that they can carry through life.

Here are some highlighted lessons from the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Bullying: Many presentations were given to discuss what is bullying, how to prevent or stop it if your child sees it and how bullying can impact another student.
  • Bicycle/ Helmet Safety: Numerous presentations were given to discuss the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike and other safety tips to remember when biking.
  • Internet Safety: Several presentations were made to cover various online safety topics. There were presentations in general on internet safety and use and presentations on social media safety.
  • Distracted Driving: These presentations were given at both Carroll ISD high schools to bring awareness to the dangers of driving while distracted or impaired. Impaired driving includes distractions such as texting while driving, putting on makeup while driving or anything that takes your eyes off the roadway. Mr. James Shaffer lost his wife and daughter due to a distracted driver, and he comes to the presentations to share his story. At the end of the presentations, students were encouraged to pledge to be a non-distracted Dragon driver.
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Presentations were given to teach drug and alcohol awareness and dangers of using drugs and alcohol to students.
  • Cell Phone Safety: Presentations were given to bring awareness to the dangers of apps and how information can be stored in them.

Tweet From Chief Brandon's Twitter

 

 

These are just a few of the many kinds of educational classes provided by the SROs. They also serve as positive role models through coaching and mentoring to help students make good choices and to learn about the consequences of negative behavior.

 

Welcome Back SRO Cheryl Womack

We’d like to welcome back Cheryl Womack to the Southlake Police Department’s School Resource Officer program (SRO). SRO Womack will be returning to Carroll ISD’s Johnson Elementary School on Tuesday, October 11, after a brief absence.

SRO Womack is looking forward to being reunited with her former students and meeting new students. “I really enjoy making a positive impact on students at the elementary school level. They are so eager to learn and do well in school and I am proud to be a part of that process,” said SRO Womack.

SRO Womack has been in law enforcement for more than 22 years. She holds a Master Peace Officer certification, Firearms Instructor certification, TCOLE Instructor certification, Crisis Negotiator certification, as well as being the recipient of several awards during her career as a police officer.

SROs have become a welcomed fixture on every CISD campus. They work in partnership with the Carroll Independent School District’s (CISD) staff, teachers, and parents, and their presence allows students and teachers to learn and teach in a safe environment. In addition to providing safety and security, SROs look for ways to build positive relationships with students and to help reinforce good behavior. The SRO program assists with student development by allowing SROs to fully engage students in learning about problem solving, life skills and crime prevention measures. Some of the specific topics include: age-appropriate cell phone use and safety, cyber-bullying, online computer safety and much more.

All Southlake School Resource Officers are experienced police officers. In addition to general law enforcement training, they receive specialized training before becoming an SRO. This training includes but is not limited to: instruction in Juvenile Law, Autism Awareness, Sexual Assault and Family Violence, Active Shooter Training, and other related courses.

If you would like to know more about our SRO program, feel free to talk with the SRO at your child’s school or contact the SRO supervisor, Sergeant John Stokes at jstokes@ci.southlake.tx.us.

School Resource Officers Provide Safety and Life Skills to Students

sros-back-to-school-safetyIt’s the third week of school for Carroll ISD students and they are already hard at work learning new things. Southlake School Resource Officers (SROs) are also hard at work on every campus keeping kids safe and serving as mentors and positive role models.

The School Resource Officer program works in partnership with the City of Southlake, Carroll Independent School District (CISD), staff, teachers, parents, children and the community. SROs not only provide a safe environment for students to learn and grow but they also help students beyond the classroom. They look for ways to build positive relationships with students and to help reinforce good behavior. Through this partnership and active participation, the program allows SROs to fully engage in problem solving, crime prevention measures, and the development of students.

The SROs teach many programs that provide hands-on training including:

  • Safe driving skills – Teaching safe driving skills and hands-on demonstrations about what can happen when a person drives distracted: I.e.; texting and talking on a cell phone, playing games like Pokemon Go and Snapchat, or allowing other teens in the vehicle to take their attention away from driving. SROs let students sit in the driver’s seat of a vehicle equipped with a real-life driving simulator. The students are then presented with different scenarios to let them experience what happens when they text and drive and take their eyes off the road. This instruction provides a very eye-opening experience for teen drivers. It allows them to experience these very real dangers in a safe environment and take those valuable lessons with them when they get behind the wheel.
  • Age appropriate cell phones & safety – SRO Brett Wilson provides instruction on cell phone safety and the appropriate age for a child to have a cell phone as well as what parents should be monitoring.
  • Game Over – This program recreates a major accident and the impact that drugs/alcohol’s negative consequences have upon family, friends, loved ones and the community. The recreation includes a mock accident with real police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS), ambulance vehicles and a CareFlite helicopter. A student plays the role of the Grimm Reaper, tapping students on the shoulder to represent how many teens die from alcohol-related vehicle accidents each year. A grieving parent arrives on scene during the mock exercise to simulate the immediate shock and emotional impact of learning a loved one has died.
  • Live gaming safety – SRO Wilson also provides information on the dangers of kids playing games like X-Box Live where child predators can find ways to connect with children through the live gaming App. These important lessons are provided for kids and parents.
  • Suicide prevention – SROs teach a course on suicide prevention and how to recognize signs of calls for help including “cutting” or other self-destructive acts.
  • Officer Incredible & positive mentoring – SRO Diron Hill turns into Officer Incredible, complete with hero costume and all to reinforce good behavior with students. He helps kids be good students and good citizens. SRO Hill even rewards good students with lunch with Officer Incredible as an added incentive. Kids love it and clamor to do well in school and to be selected.
  • Student engagement – SRO Frank LaGrassa makes it his mission to learn every student’s name in his school within the first two weeks. He calls them by name as the students arrive and leave school in the afternoon. SRO LaGrassa helps teach the kids that they can turn to him for help in any situation.
  • Drug awareness – SRO Cory Rattan teaches drug awareness and the dangers of drug use to students.  He also holds a class on accident reconstruction to help students understand the importance of learning math and algebra.  SRO Rattan also mentors students through the “Dragon Hero” program, which reinforces doing good deeds for others.
  • Cyber-bullying – SROs also teach kids about “Cyber-bullying” – The goal is to teach students how negatively cyber-bulling can impact another student’s life, health and wellbeing.

SRO Brett WilsonThese examples are just a sampling of the kind of mentoring and proactive educational instruction classes provided by our Southlake School Resource Officers. To give you an idea how much time SROs spend with students, in 2015, SROs held more than 4,500 meetings — mentoring kids, meeting with students and parents, and providing classroom and hands-on instruction.

SROs have become a welcomed fixture on every CISD campus. Their presence allows students and teachers to learn and teach in a safe environment. The life skills and lessons taught by Southlake SROs are an added benefit.

Background

The School Resource Officer program initially began in 1992 with three SROs. In 2013, following the escalation of violence in schools across the country, the City of Southlake and its Police Department expanded the program to put an SRO in every CISD school.

School Resource Officers are experienced officers. They receive specialized training before becoming an SRO, including but not limited to, instruction in Juvenile Law, Autism Awareness, Sexual Assault and Family Violence, Active Shooter Training, and other related courses. SROs also receive additional training throughout the year. The approximate yearly cost for the SRO program is $1 million, and it comes from a 1/8-cent sales tax through the Crime Control and Prevention District.

 If you would like to know more about our SRO programs, feel free to talk with the SRO at your child’s school or contact the SRO supervisor Sgt. John Stokes at jstokes@ci.southlake.tx.us.       

first-day-of-school frank-lagrassa-reading-to-kids sro-diron-hill

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School Resource Officers Provide Safety and Life Skills

As you know, Southlake School Resource Officers are in the Carroll ISD schools as an added layer of protection to help keep children safe, but you might not be aware of all that they do to enhance the learning process for students both inside and outside of the classroom.  SRO’s serve as mentors to students and provide opportunities for them to learn and grow and to get hands-on experiences they can use in their daily lives.

For example:

  • SRO Cory Rattan teaches drug awareness and the dangers of drug use to students.  He also holds a class on accident reconstruction to help them understand the importance of learning math and algebra.  Officer Rattan also mentors students through the “Dragon Hero” program which reinforces doing good deeds for others.
  • SRO Allen Smith teaches a course on “Energy transference” – a basic course in using the information for life skills such as jump-starting a car; a very practical use for courses that enhance the student’s understanding of courses taught at CISD.  He also shows students how to do basic things like a change a flat tire.Allen Smith car
  • SRO Brett Wilson instructs her students (and parents) on cell phone safety and the appropriate age for a child to have a cell phone as well as what parents should be monitoring.  Officer Wilson also teaches a course on suicide prevention and how to recognize other signs of calls for help including “cutting” or other self- destructive acts.
  • SRO Cheryl Womack mentors students in art and P.E. She works with them on displaying good behavior and those who do well get to spend one-on-one time with SRO Womack.

This week as part of National Distracted Driving month SRO Blas Hernandez created a unique way to get the message out to teens who drive. He had students paint their thumbs green so that when their hands grip the steering wheel they will see the Dragon green colors and it’s a reminder to not text and drive or drive distracted.  It’s important to reach teens early because distracted driving is 6x’s more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Here are some other startling facts:

  • 3,328 people were killed from distracted driving in 2012. Over 420,000 people were injured. This is a 9% increase from 2011.
  • Drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones.
  • Texting & driving drivers take their eyes off the road for a minimum of 4.6 seconds.

(Visit www.distraction.gov / Faces to hear the personal stories of families left without their loved ones.)green thumb Blas

Officer Hernandez, along with our Community Initiatives Coordinators, also provided a “Take the Pledge” card to teens to remind them of these statistics and to have them sign a pledge card promising to never drive distracted.

Officer Hernandez also teaches a course on cyber-bulling. His goal is to teach students how negatively cyber-bulling can impact another student’s life, health and well-being.  These examples are just a sampling of the kind of mentoring and proactive educational instruction classes provided by our Southlake School Resource Officers. They not only provide a safe environment for students to learn and grow but our SRO’s are also helping students beyond the classroom.

For more information about our SRO programs feel free to talk with the SRO at your child’s school or contact the SRO supervisor Sgt. John Stokes at jstokes@ci.southlake.tx.us.