Keller — With high school football season just kicking off, fans will notice some changes in security procedures in the Keller ISD Athletics Complex designed to limit interactions between rivals and restrict access to the areas around the field.Visiting fans must enter the stadium through the east side gates and stay in the east side stands while home spectators remain on the west side. In the past, visitors were allowed to enter through the west side gates and walk along the south side of the track to access the away stands. Officials also are asking visitors to park in the east side lot or in the overflow lot north of Johnson Road.“Our main concern is the safety of the kids,” said Kevin Kinley, director of safety and security. “We took a look at the old procedures and decided to make some changes in the best interest of students and faculty and keeping everyone safe.”Keller district officials worked closely with the Keller Police Department to improve stadium security. Sgt. Warren Dudley reviewed procedures and Officer Michael Feges, the student resource officer at Keller High School, suggested a number of the changes, officials said.Kinley said that Keller police will increase bicycle patrols around the stadium and adjacent parking lots. While Keller typically has a pair of officers on horseback in the parking lots, bikes will enhance mobility and coverage for police.Officials plan to ramp up security for the six intradistrict rivalry games. Kinley said high school student resource officers would be on duty in the stadium during their schools’ games. If problems with students arise, the SROs are more likely to be able to identify individuals from their campus.Keller Police Chief Mark Hafner said the changes were not prompted by any serious incidents but by a drive to improve security. Police have dealt with “minor issues.”With four KISD high schools sharing one stadium, football games take place not just on Friday nights but also Thursday nights and sometimes Saturdays during the day.Hafner said that the football games are the largest recurring events his staff oversees.“We want to have as safe an environment as possible,” he said.Athletic director Bob DeJonge said the changes also are designed to keep students and faculty participating on and around the field safe by restricting access to the field level. Those who need to get close to the field will be required to have a field access pass.“In the past, people who have been pleased or displeased with the game have had access to the field, the officials and people who are participating,” DeJonge said.While KISD officials have had rules in place for many years to keep rival fans separate, restricting field access also keeps students from one school from walking across the track to interact with opposing fans. Although kids often have good intentions about visiting their friends from other schools, some may end up getting into trouble.“I think the changes will prove to be beneficial because we’re going to eliminate opportunities where bad things might happen,” DeJonge said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland