AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Independent School District officials project they will need more than 100 officers to comply with a new state law requiring armed officers on every campus.
According to AISD Interim Superintendent Matias Segura, the district currently has two school resource officers in every high school and one in every middle school, but officers patrol the elementary schools.
“What we are moving to is a placement for every elementary school and what that will do is give us complete coverage,” said Segura. “That will require us to expand our police department by a little over 70 officers, and when you do that you have to add other supervisors and pay for equipment and all the things needed to support that officer.”
Segura said he believes they will be able to meet the requirement for HB 3 over the course of about a year.
Chief Jeffrey Yarbrough with the Hutto Police Department used to serve as the chief of Round Rock ISD and said having trained officers on campus is important.
“There is a need to make sure we protect our most valuable asset, which is our children,” said Yarbrough.
Both Yarbrough and Segura said training these officers for the school setting is important, but it is different than patrolling the streets.
“For us, the training piece is very very important,” Segura said. “School policing and community policing is very different.”
Yarbrough said the fundamental requirement for anyone in law enforcement is to get your basic peace officer certification.
“From there you go into the school and you receive your field training, you receive your specialized training that comes from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. You also have training that comes from the Texas State School Safety Center. There is also training that is provided through the National Association of School Resource Officers.”
According to Austin ISD, training officers can take about six months before they are ready to work on a campus.
“You cannot police 6th grade like you police 6th street,” Yarbrough said.
The new law provides $15,000 per campus plus $10 per student, or about $2.5 million for AISD, leaving the district to cover about $5.5 million per year.
“We will be covering that out of our general operating budget,” Segura said. “The same budget that pays for programing and compensation.”