The Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved to move forward with establishing a District Police Department during their regular meeting on Dec. 19.
With the approval and subsequent establishment of a police department, the District will now have the opportunity to determine best employment and training practices for law enforcement officers on campuses and train officers on school-based law enforcement, restorative practices, behavioral health practices and implicit bias. The ability to establish practices, professional development and procedures also allows the District to create further consistency in how student situations and disciplinary procedures are handled.
“Our priority as Board of Trustees is to ensure the safety and security of students and staff in Round Rock ISD and work in partnership with administration and campuses to create safe learning environments for all,” Board President Amy Weir said.
Moving forward, the District will continue through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) application process, which was started earlier in the school year with Board guidance in efforts to prepare and streamline for a potential decision of establishing a police department. The application process consists of establishing policies, funding sources and establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local law enforcement agencies and their respective jurisdictions.
“We are grateful for the leadership of our Board of Trustees as they worked with our community and administration to determine the best course of action for safety and security in our District,” Superintendent Steve Flores, Ph.D. said. “I commend the Task Force for their work, and with the Board’s decision, important work lies ahead for us that will include establishing practices and procedures that will serve the needs of our campus communities and provide safe teaching and learning environments for all.”
Once the TCOLE application is approved, the District will begin a transition plan that will include gradually replacing SROs that are currently serving at campuses with newly hired Round Rock ISD Police Department officers.
The application process is expected to take anywhere from three to six months to complete and receive approval.
The decision to establish a police department comes after more than a year of discussions with community members and District administration on potential options for safety and security in the District. Part of that community discussion stemmed from the Board’s establishment of a Safety and Security Task Force, which was charged with exploring safety and security options and comprised of community members representing various areas of the Round Rock community. The Task Force met several times a month from August 21, 2018, to September 9, 2019. During their meetings, they spoke with District administration and staff and law enforcement officials about the logistics of providing campus coverage, the challenges, costs, and the related processes and procedures of the respective organization.
The results of their work included a final presentation to Board of Trustees on September 9 on options for safety and security in the District. A main finding presented by the Task Force was that a District police department in conjunction with District provided behavioral health education services and resources would be an option to best serve students.
The District already is heavily investing in behavioral health services and new resources, including the recent opening of two Round Rock ISD Mental Health Centers. The centers, located at Cedar Ridge and Round Rock high schools, are offices for licensed therapists who travel to campuses to provide student therapy sessions. Round Round ISD counseling services oversees the centers with counseling services provided by licensed mental health professionals contracted from Bluebonnet Trails Community Services.