Austin ISD school board prepares for new law requiring an armed officer on each campus

During Austin ISD's school board meeting Thursday night, Austin ISD Board of Trustees approved all items on the consent agenda except for 12.5, which also includes the determination of the Appropriate Number of Police Officers for Each Campus.

House Bill 3 will go into effect on Friday, Sept. 1, the bill requires schools in the state to have on armed officer on each campus. 

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Austin ISD already has a police department established. They currently have 82 full-time police officers, including 43 school resource officers (SROs). 

In order for Austin ISD to comply with the bill, they would need to hire 89 additional SROs and support staff which includes lieutenants, detectives and dispatchers.

The district said officers will have to be rotated throughout the day to ensure each campus has coverage. The district also says they will not consider arming teachers or district employees to be in compliance with the bill. 

The district's focus is to hire qualified candidates for the job. All officers are trained in working with the youth. The hiring and training process could take about six months before a new officer can serve at the campuses.

"We want to have school resource officers who know our students, who are familiar with our students and are specially trained to carry firearms and work with the student population. We want our teachers focused on the classroom and focused on students' academic and social needs. We don't want them worried about the security needs," says Jacob Reach, Chief of Governmental Relations & Board Services.

The next safety and security meeting will be Sept. 19.