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West Rusk school board to consider district police

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Feb. 3, 2013 at 11 p.m.


The Board of Trustees for West Rusk County Consolidated Independent School District will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss creating a school district police department.

Superintendent Tommy Alexander said the possibility of a police department for the district has been under discussion for almost a year and is not being done specifically in response to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. However, he conceded that the tragedy has brought the issue of school security to the forefront.

While several other East Texas school districts have decided to let staff members who have concealed handgun licenses to carry weapons on school property, Alexander said that's not an option he's comfortable pursuing.

"I don't, personally, want to be part of a district that arms its teachers," Alexander said. "I've worked with a lot of outstanding educators over the past 40 years, but there's not one I could think of that I'd want to see armed during the school day."

By creating a police department for the district, the schools will have an armed, licensed peace officer on the premises whenever school is in session, he said. The office would also be present at extracurricular activities.

"We're hoping that regular interaction with a police officer will help our students feel more comfortable discussing things with law enforcement officers," Alexander said. "Not just incidents at school, but other things they may be aware of in the community."

The school district police department, if approved by the board, will initially consist of only one officer, he said. It's possible another part-time position may be added in the future.

"We think this is going to be the best way to ensure the safety of our students and the peace of mind of their parents," Alexander said.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m Tuesday in the board conference room, 10705 Main St. (Highway 42) in New London.

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