The Mission Consolidated Independent School Board of Trustees will vote next week on taking the first step toward creating the district’s own police force.
During a Feb. 28 Board of Trustees Finance Committee meeting members were told by district risk management director, Silvia Cruz, staff is working with legal counsel to draw up a resolution in support of creating a police force the full board will be asked to vote on during the district’s regular board meeting March 8.
The announcement went without comment from committee members but District Superintendent Dr. Ricardo Lopez said passage of the resolution is the first step necessary for district staff to begin looking for grants and planning the process of creating the department.
“It doesn’t mean we’re opening up the department tomorrow,” Lopez told committee members. “This is just so we can start exploring it.”
Following the meeting Lopez said the district currently spends “roughly” $1.8 million per year on security for the school district. The district currently contracts with the cities of Mission, Alton and Palmhurst police departments to provide school resource officers for the district’s three high schools and four junior high schools, Lopez said. In addition the district provides private security officers at each of its 14 elementary schools as well as junior and senior high schools, Lopez said, adding security officers would still remain a part of the district’s security force with the district’s police department officers being state certified law enforcement officers.
Lopez said the move is not unprecedented noting Alton, Weslaco and Edinburg ISDs already have their own police departments.
Lopez said the decision to create the district’s own police department is not the result of the amount of crime or drugs on campus, which he acknowledge exists within the school district, but rather a matter of control over the officers working in the district.
“When we have our own police force we’ll be able to have more control over the things we do here without compromising the integrity of the municipalities that we partner with,” Lopez said.
Lopez said he could not yet estimate the cost of the police department because it has not yet been determined how large it would need to be. He said passage of the resolution is just the first stage of the process.
“What we’re trying to do is roll out the beginnings which will allow us to apply for grants, for start up costs, for different types of programs that maybe we want to incorporate,” Lopez said. “And then we’d create a three to four year roll out plan. So nothing would be immediate it,” he said.
In other agenda matters finance committee meeting members were informed they would be voting March 8 on separate one time and ongoing spending requests. A tally by the Progress Times shows the expenditures total a little over $5 million.
Among the big ticket items the board will be voting to approve is a $1.1 million expenditure on one special needs bus and nine regular school busses, nearly $600,000 for classroom supplies and about $444,000 on imprinted and embroidered items and a similar amount for promotional items. The board will also be asked to spend approximately $158,000 on a Spanish phonics program for primary schools students and about $330,000 for large touch screen panels to teach kindergartners.