When school doors open up again next fall, students might notice a slight change.
Jason Chapman, director of safety and security for Waxahachie ISD, is doing his part to make local schools a safer and better place to attend in the near future. Chapman, in his first year as director, is lobbying school board members to develop a Waxahachie ISD Police Department.
With other districts such as Red Oak, Ferris and Ennis already having police departments in their schools, Chapman believes there is no reason Waxahachie shouldn’t continue the trend.
“A lot of school districts are going to police departments,” Chapman said. “It’s not just around here, it’s all over the state and the nation. It’s due to past problems with school shootings and similar events. We’re trying to organize a police department to prevent anything like that from occurring.”
Even though WISD has a security office, Chapman said that doesn’t do much to prevent anything similar to the recent tragedies such as those at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School.
“Security doesn’t really have too much enforcement ground. Police can actually get in and make arrests and work investigations,” Chapman said.
“We don’t want a school shooting here in this school district,” he said. “If it’s going to happen here, it’s going to happen here whether you have a police department or not. But having officers here will discourage that. In school violence, they try to pick schools that are the most vulnerable and where they can get in with the least resistance possible. Unfortunately all we have here is security right now that are unarmed and can’t really do that much.”
Chapman wants the police department to seem as a line of prevention, instead of being prison-like. He hopes to develop relationships with the students, earning their trust to create a safer environment at the schools.
“Enforcement is more of a last line,” Chapman said. “Our deal is going to be preventive and intervention. If there are issues coming up, we hope kids will come up to us and let us know if stuff is going down.”
As well as having police officers located in all of the secondary schools, Chapman plans to implement programs in student counseling and law-related education in the high school and junior high schools with elementary schools having similar programs.
Chapman has already addressed the school board, now he is trying to inform the community how big of a help bringing in a police department could be.
“You just have to educate people to the point where they get comfortable knowing it will be done professionally and done right,” Chapman said. “Once you educate them on it, and once they get familiar with law enforcement, I don’t think it will be an issue.”
Even though there would be a slight increase in the school district’s expenses to bring in a police department for the schools, Chapman said it wouldn’t be much more than what is currently paid for the security department.
Either way, you can’t put a price on a student’s safety, he said.