Carroll schools will have armed officers on every campus, police chief says

Posted Monday, Aug. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When school starts Aug. 26, all 11 Carroll school district campuses will have an armed police officer on duty, part of a campus-safety initiative resulting from the shootings last year at a Connecticut elementary school.

The city police program will complement the school district’s Operation #SAFEdragon, school officials said.

Southlake Police Chief Stephen Mylett briefed school trustees on the program Monday. The board took no action.

Mylett said he will staff the police program with transfers and new hires. Seven new officers have already been hired, he said.

The city will pay for the first months of the program with about $190,000 from the Crime Control and Prevention District. Next year, $700,000 to $800,000 from the crime district budget will likely be used for the effort, Mylett said.

The crime control district oversees a voter-approved half-cent sales tax earmarked for public safety, Mylett said.

“I really think we are on the cutting edge of creating something that is sustainable,” Mylett told trustees.

The budget is still being fine-tuned, Mylett told the Star-Telegram before the meeting Monday.

In the past, three Southlake police officers were assigned to Carroll High School, Carroll Senior High and the middle schools. Those officers also kept an eye on elementary schools.

An important aspect of the program is ensuring that officers become known in their school communities, Mylett said. Having the officers on campus also is key to having good communication with students, faculty and parents, he said.

“It builds the trust,” Mylett said. “It builds the relations. It helps alleviate that fear that we experienced following Sandy Hook.”

Mylett is expected to brief the Southlake City Council today on the program.

“Our community is grateful for the service,” said school board President Read Ballew.

Earlier this summer, the school district began phasing in #SAFEDragon security initiatives. (SAFE stands for Safety Awareness For Every Dragon.) About $265,500 was approved for the first phase, which includes a more thorough background check for volunteers. It includes a new online volunteer application and background checks for different types of criminal records, said Julie Thannum, the district’s spokeswoman.

In the past, the district ran visitor and volunteer background checks against sex offender databases. Now, volunteers will be given a more extensive check and based on the result will be approved, approved with restrictions or denied access.

For example, if the background search finds that a person has been convicted of a crime against a child, access would be denied, Thannum said. A person with a past embezzlement charge could end up being approved with restrictions — perhaps to help with a field trip but not to operate a spirit club, she said.

The online applications are not available yet because a website is still being developed, Thannum said.

“It’s definitely more rigorous than what we had been doing in the past,” Thannum said.

Carroll’s safety initiatives also include more fencing for playgrounds, safety training for staff and a Safety Fair in August to introduce new school police officers.

Carroll schools will also introduce the eTrack Pilot Program, which will allow the district to test communication devices expected to help provide swift emergency response during a crisis.

This report contains material from Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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