District hires private school security director to launch department
ARGYLE — The Argyle school board hired Ralph Price this week to lead the police department the district intends to form.
In a 6-0 vote Monday, the board hired Price at a salary of $90,000, Superintendent Telena Wright said.
Price, 55, has 31 years of experience as a peace officer, and for the last 14 years has worked at the Greenhill School — an Addison private school with about 1,270 students — serving as a school resource officer and currently as director of security.
“He has a good combination of experience in schools ... and in law enforcement,” Wright said.
According to officials, Price will begin work with the school district in December.
“I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s something new,” Price said. “We’re going to start it from the ground floor and work our way up, and hopefully, I’ll see this school district grow and the ISD police department grow at the same time.”
According to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement documents, Price served a little more than a year with the Iowa Park police in 1982-83. For more than 21 years, beginning in 1984, he served as an officer with the Addison Police Department. Since 2005, he’s served as a reserve officer with the Addison police. According to Price’s resume, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1978 to 1982, attaining the rank of sergeant.
After an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, the Argyle school board began to examine how the district might provide better security at its facilities. The board could also consider arming staff soon as a measure of security for the district in addition to establishing a police department, according to officials.
The school district posted the police chief position Aug. 20, nearly two weeks after the board unanimously passed a resolution to establish a district police department.
Seventeen people applied for the position. Seven were interviewed and two were selected finalists for the police chief job, Wright said.
Board President Kevin Faciane said the board is excited about bringing Price on to serve as police chief.
“Chief Price [has] got an excellent background,” Faciane said. “I think he’s an ideal fit for our district. He’s got the law enforcement background, and we feel like he’s got the skill set to work great with our community and our children, our students, as well.”
Wright said the district is in the process of getting all its policies together so that it can submit an application to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. The district must apply to be recognized as a police department and to receive a law enforcement agency identification number, according to the commission.
Before submitting the application, the district must submit information about its police chief, the need for a department, funding sources, physical resources, facilities, policies, administrative structure, liability insurance and more. The application requires paying a nonrefundable fee of $1,000.
Commission officials previously said the process can take 30 to 90 days upon receipt of the application.
The district could spend as much as $120,000 to establish its police department, Wright said, and expenses will include Price’s salary, a patrol vehicle and supplies.
When the department is established, Price will have jurisdiction in all areas of the school district’s 48 square miles, including land outside town limits and property outside the district boundaries that is owned by, leased by or under the control of the district.
Price’s office will be at the Argyle Middle/High School campus, Wright said.
She said she envisions Price being responsible for district safety and security, education of students and parents regarding safety, overseeing the emergency operations plan, working with the possible implementation of armed staff within the district and overseeing safety at special district events.
Price said his first priority is getting the paperwork submitted to the state to get the department up and running. After that, he said he intends to get into the security aspects of the schools and observe what security measures are in place on each campus.
“My thinking right off the bat is this school will automatically become safer when I step on the campus because of my ability to be a first responder for the campus,” he said. “I think that’s what they’re really looking for at the start is somebody that can take charge in case there was some kind of major incident. With all my training that I have, I don’t have a problem with that.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.