Round Rock ISD will take the first step toward the potential establishment of a District-operated police department after action by the Board of Trustees at their meeting Thursday, June 21.
Trustees approved a resolution that calls for the further exploration and consideration of the establishment of a police department in collaboration with local law enforcement partners and a plan for engaging the community in the process.
Superintendent Steve Flores, Ph.D., shared a message with the community on Wednesday explaining the impetus for the discussion on whether the district needs its own department. Most large districts in Texas—and many small districts—operate their own departments, in part so they can ensure schools are adequately staffed with school resource officers and that those officers are trained in school-based policing, including a focus on diversity training, mental health awareness, and restorative discipline practices.
The Board of Trustees identified safety issues as a priority in a 2016 Board retreat and charged the District with exploring the possibility of establishing a department. Later that year, the District commissioned a safety audit conducted by the Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools. The audit report, delivered in January 2017, included a recommendation that Round Rock ISD should establish an ISD Police Department to become the law enforcing entity for the District.
Concerns have become critical over the past year as local law enforcement partners have struggled to staff schools with school resource officers. Currently, the District partners with three local law enforcement agencies to provide school resource officers at Round Rock ISD secondary schools. However, there have been several instances, due to shortages in personnel, when officers have been reassigned from a school, leaving significant gaps in coverage.
Moving forward, the District will provide the opportunity for community input in the hiring of a Chief of Police, the recommendation to the Board on whether the District should continue pursuing its own department, and, should the Board decide to establish the department, what training and oversight should be implemented.