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District police force on way

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

Argyle school board passes resolution to establish department

ARGYLE — The school board unanimously passed a resolution this week to establish a district police department.

The resolution passed 6-0 at a special meeting Thursday. Next, the district looks to hire a person who will become the police chief.

“I think we’ll post the position within the next couple weeks and we’ll take as long as we need to find the right candidate,” said Kevin Faciane, board president. “The critical issue for us is finding the right person to help form and lead the school police department.”

For nearly an hour and a half, the school board deliberated in executive session whether to enter into an agreement with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office or the Argyle Police Department to hire a school resource officer, or establish the Argyle Independent School District Police Department.

Faciane said there were several factors to consider.

“I think ultimately a key issue is that as the district expands, it’s very likely that we’ll have campuses outside the town limits of Argyle,” he said. “Of all the choices considered, the school police department will give us the best jurisdiction coverage.”

Superintendent Telena Wright, who recommended the board approve the option establishing a district police department, said the police chief will have jurisdiction in all areas of the school district, which is 48 square miles and includes land outside town limits.

According to the resolution approved Thursday, the jurisdiction of any district law enforcement officers will also include any property outside district boundaries that’s owned, leased or under the district’s control.

Wright said the decision to establish a district police force is the best “long-term solution” in securing the school district.

Since December and following an elementary school shooting in Connecticut, the district has examined measures for providing better security at its facilities.

The resolution passed Thursday stated that school safety is a primary concern to the district and that recent school violence has “heightened awareness” and “the need for a greater law enforcement presence, in the Argyle Independent School District.”

The district must submit an application to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to be recognized as a department and to receive a law enforcement agency identification number, according to commission officials.

The district must receive an agency number to be recognized as a police department and to appoint police officers.

Prior to submitting the application, as with any entity applying to create a law enforcement agency or police department, the district must submit information regarding: its police chief; the need for a department in the community; funding sources for the force; physical resources available to officers; the facilities the force will operate out of; the department’s policies; administrative structure for the force; liability insurance; a resolution from the school board authorizing the creation of a police force; and meetings approving the resolution.

Wright has said that costs for the district to establish its police force could range from $80,000 to $150,000, depending on the salary and experience of the officer hired, the type of patrol vehicle the district would purchase and other supplies.

The district has to have “all the pieces of the puzzle in order” prior to submitting an application for review, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement official said. With the application, entities looking to establish their police forces must submit a $1,000 fee, which is nonrefundable.

Argyle Police Chief William Tackett, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said he understands the board’s reasoning in looking to establish a district police force and thinks the board is “doing the right thing.”

The town police department will help the district in any way it can, he said.

“The Argyle Police Department has always supported our school district, and we’re going to support this endeavor 100 percent,” Tackett said.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.