The Dallas Independent School District is getting a new top cop: John Blackburn, who's been the Houston Independent School District's police chief since 2000. In fact, HISD was the first and only accredited school district police force in the country, and it became that way during his tenure, which began 12 years ago, when Blackburn was assistant chief. He's getting good money to come to Dallas: $125,000, which he will start taking home some time in mid-May.
Dunno much about the guy, but I do know this much: During his tenure, the HISD came under serious fire for underreporting its crime statistics, leading to a story in The New York Times in November 2003 that featured this particularly troubling opener:
"It was one of the most unforgettable of schoolhouse crimes: a disabled 17-year-old student was shoved into a boys' bathroom in her wheelchair by a classmate at Yates High School [in Houston], dragged to the floor and raped. Her attacker was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Yet the Houston Independent School District did not include that rape, committed two years ago, when it came time to report the school year's campus crimes to the state as required by Texas law. And that is not the only school crime that appears to have been airbrushed from the official record."
So, even if Blackburn does a lousy job, at least things will look good at the DISD. And Lord knows, in a city like Dallas, appearances are everything. --Robert Wilonsky