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
“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.
Three months after the horrific school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, a task force focused on school security and student well-being has recommended placing School Resource Police Officers (SROs) at every Southlake public school. The goal is to have the officers in place by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
On March 19th, task force member and Southlake Police Chief Steve Mylett made the recommendation to the City Council explaining the plan’s history and importance.
“The goals of the SRO program include enhancing security on all Southlake public school campuses, reducing community fear regarding child safety, and reducing the likelihood of drug and alcohol use,” said Chief Mylett.
He also explained that under the current program, a full time School Resource Officer is stationed at Carroll Senior High School, with another one assigned at Carroll High School. A third officer splits time between the City’s two middle schools: Dawson and Carroll. The Task Force recommendation expands the program from three employees to 13 employees to cover an additional eight schools including Florence Elementary which is part of Keller Independent School District.
At the March 19th meeting, Mayor John Terrell told the audience that he sees the expanded program as a long-term investment. He stated later: “As with any long-term commitment, this program will evolve and we will modify it as we believe is necessary so that it will continually improve. What’s important is that this investment is constantly nurtured by its stakeholders so it becomes and remains a program of excellence which benefits Southlake’s families and the community.”
All of the money for the expanded program will come from the Crime Control Prevention District, the half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters to support the City’s safety and security initiatives. The board, which has fiduciary responsibility over the fund, approved the task force’s recommendation at their meeting on March 5th. The City will move forward this summer with making the necessary budget adjustments.
The Task Force was assembled shortly after the shootings in Newtown Connecticut where 26 people lost their lives after a shooter entered the Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire. The group researched and held meetings to determine the appropriate recommendation for an enhanced SRO presence for Southlake schools. It is composed of law enforcement experts, community leaders from both the City and Carroll ISD, and faith based leaders.
“We appreciate the cooperative partnership between the City of Southlake and Carroll ISD, especially on the topic of school safety,” said Read Ballew, School Board President and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force. “The group was quick but thorough in making a recommendation. Safety is a top priority for all of us, but the city’s expansion of the SRO program allows Carroll ISD to concentrate on our main focus of educating students.’
Superintendent David Faltys said the existing SRO program provides students, staff and parents with the opportunity to build strong relationships with local law enforcement officers. “The city’s efforts to help keep our schools safer also provide us with a great opportunity to utilize the expertise of these officers to positively impact the lives of students. We look forward to working with Chief Steve Mylett to find just the right individuals to fill these positions.”
City staff will now move forward with the necessary steps to seek out and hire qualified officers to staff the enhanced program. All SRO officers are required to go through 40 hours of specialized training that will focus on the specific safety and security needs of public schools and the children who attend them.