In the wake of last month's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the subsequent proposal by local state Representative Jason Villalba to arm specially trained teachers, DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander dismissed the idea that Dallas teachers will soon be roaming the halls packing heat. He did leave the door open for ways to supplement DISD's lean police force.
"We just don't have enough officers to place one in every campus right now," Dahlander told Unfair Park. "So that's something we're going to need to talk about."
At today's meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed one possible solution: stationing DPD officers at DISD schools.
That used to be the norm. Brown said the department stopped providing resource officers around the time that DISD formed its own police force. Discussions about such a program are in their early stages -- given personnel constraints, there is talk about employing retired officers -- and implementation is "at least six months out," said DPD spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey.
And just as Brown was wrapping up his presentation at City Hall, Superintendent Mike Miles was visiting with KERA's Krys Boyd. That discussion was wide-ranging, but Miles did field a caller's question about school security, specifically about how she was able to waltz into her daughter's elementary school without signing in or otherwise being verified as a non-crazy person.
Miles pointed out the security measures that are in place -- officers stationed at high schools, metal detectors at middle schools -- but echoed Brown's call to "increase [the] presence and visibility" of law enforcement.
A DISD task force is currently looking for ways to improve security, Miles said, and a recent audit of safety procedures at DISD's nearly four dozen elementary schools. That
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"Right now we're leaving one door open so that people can come into the school," Miles said. The task force has recommended looking to implement some type of a buzz-in system to control access to DISD campuses.
"We do not want to turn our schools into fortresses," Miles said. "At the same time we want our kids to feel safe. ... We have to remain vigilant and our students have to remain vigilant."
Update at 5:13 p.m.: DISD spokeswoman Libby Daniels provides a bit of context:
It seems the program referred to came out of a discussion with the two police chiefs and the superintendent after Newtown. As far as I know, there has only been the initial conversation, so it is too early to say exactly what such a program would look like if it happens. However, I am told that the program, as it was originally discussed, is more of a safety education awareness program that would pilot at select elementary schools for a two week period next school year--very ;much like the D.A.R.E. program. Again, it is really early in the discussion stages, so nothing has been fully determined and certainly nothing has been approved.