It is no doubt because of this morning’s tragic and devastating events, some may be questioning, “How safe is my family within the community or in Aransas Pass ISD?” That’s a great question and one I feel we are well equipped to respond to.
As you may recall, I shared information this morning about a murder-suicide event involving a male juvenile who resides just outside of Aransas Pass. The male killed his entire family and then himself. In addition, he expressed his desire to shoot up a school later this morning, but fortunately, he could not carry out the last leg of his threat. So, how are the school and local public safety prepared in the event school violence of this nature should strike? Great question.
For the past several years now, APISD staff and AP Public Safety have collaborated closely to prepare for such violence. And, not just violence, but rather, any disaster that may strike and threaten our ISD, staff, and students. This board has also trained and continues to work closely together. As a result, many implementations have been established to bolster our campus security and safety.
First, the school and local public safety utilize the SRP protocol. This protocol standardizes the language used during a time of an emergency. If you recall, we shared this program in our welcome back message earlier this school year. The purpose behind the protocol is to streamline effective communication and not overexcite or confuse a situation that is rapidly evolving and dynamically changing. We all, staff, students, and parents, must understand what certain alerts and phrases mean. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this program. Next, let me talk about on-location security efforts.
While some school ISD PDs across the nation are downsizing or closing altogether, we are expanding. We now have two full-time, permanently assigned school resource officers (SROs). They are Sgt. Tony Davila and Ofc. Andrew Ford. Both are veteran officers with good training and exceptional experience to help keep our ISD safe. They are the most familiar faces of the police department amongst our school populations. Additionally, my entire command staff team and criminal investigations division share a role within ISD safety.
Each command staff employee is assigned to a campus, and our detectives have overwatch of our daycares/head start campuses. Their job is to be the local face of the campus and the closest ISD partner. Just like our SRO’s, they are not school disciplinarians. Instead, they are mentors, counselors, and a friend to staff and students. The goal is to re-culture the image of police officers with students and staff. We should be seen less as a policing force and more as a close community partner, establishing lasting and meaningful relationships. Our policing image kicks in only when a threat strikes or another emergency event should arise. Minor crimes and matters, as prescribed by Texas law, are the responsibility of the school district and staff. However, should a serious crime take place or violence threaten, we put on our police caps and go to work. One good takeaway from this for parents and adults is, please do not tell your kids, “There’s a police officer, and he/she is going to arrest you if you don’t behave!” We strive to have kids confide in us during a time of crisis, not likewise turn away and run from us because of adult-instilled fear from an early age.
Lastly, I have placed public safety police radios on each of our campuses. Further, staff regularly train by using these radios to know how to break in and communicate directly with 911 communications staff and officers in the field. In addition, using software technology from Tango-Tango, several more ISD staffers have direct access to our public safety radio system via their smart devices. They can bring up the application on their phone and immediately talk to public safety over our police radio, just like the employee holding the actual police radio.
These are just a few publicly shareable ways we work closely with our community and ISD partners to ensure the safety and security of our ISD students, staff, and visitors.
If you have any suggestions, comments, or concerns, I will invite you to share them directly with me via the form below. My door is open to visitors, and I encourage each of you to actively participate in community safety. After all, it adds value to the quality of life when we all do our part.
God Bless you, and God Bless the family and close friends of those tragically devastated by this morning’s event.