MIDLOTHIAN – With the passing of the Midlothian Fiscal Year budget 2023/24 earlier this month, the city’s police department was approved to hire six new police officers to serve as School Resource Officers.
These additional officers will ensure that the Midlothian Independent School District meets the new state-mandated requirements of House Bill 3, which went into effect September 1. This bill calls for school districts to make efforts to employ an armed person, whether it be a peace officer, school resource officer, school marshal, security officer, or some other designated school district employee who is present at every public school campus during school hours.
“I am very proud of the stance taken by the City Council of Midlothian,” said Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith. “Over the 16 years that I have been privileged to be Chief of Police, the Council has embraced the collaborative effort between the MISD Board of Trustees, MISD Administration, and MPD to invest in our student’s safety.”
The SRO program has grown over the years, and currently, there are 12 Midlothian Police Department officers assigned exclusively to the district. This includes a Sergeant and a Commander, who also serves as the MISD Director of Safety and Security.
The district pays for up to 70% of the officers’ salaries and 100% of the wages of the Commander.
The Midlothian City Council and the MISD Board of Trustees worked together to make this happen since the new officers were not in either entity’s budget. The City will fund the positions for now, and MISD will pick up the 70% funding over the next two budget years.
“Safety is the highest priority, and we are grateful to have such a strong and long-standing partnership with the City of Midlothian and the police department,” said Midlothian ISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Karen Rue. “The collaboration has greatly benefited the students, staff, parents, and community members of MISD for more than a decade. The approval of the updated agreement strengthens and expands our prioritized safety efforts and is a model for other city and school district partnerships to follow in meeting security goals.”
The new officer positions will be filled over the next 24 months and offered to current Midlothian Police Department officers first. Still, external hires are also a strong possibility, according to the Midlothian Police Department. The external recruiting efforts will focus on officers with previous experience working as an SRO or with a School District Police Department.
“The passage of House Bill 3 placed extraordinary requirements on our ISD this year and was approved after the school district adopted its 2023/2024 Budget,” Smith concluded. “This [hiring] agreement shows the commitment of the City Council to help reduce the financial strain placed on the district created by HB 3. Also established is an annual escalation of cost sharing, allowing MISD to gradually assume up to 70% of the School Resource Officer Program by June of 2026 while placing an officer on each MISD campus.”
Midlothian ISD places the safety and security of students and staff as a top priority and has implemented several safety protocols in recent years that align with nationally accepted best practices, including:
➔ Digital video surveillance and access control technology
➔ Pre-entry visitor screening and Raptor visitor management software
➔ Lockdown alert system utilizing InformaCast
➔ Anonymous reporting system
➔ Safety window film in strategic areas on all campuses
➔ Two-way handheld radios
➔ Secure classroom door hardware (classrooms remained locked)
➔ Regularly scheduled emergency drills
➔ Campus-specific crisis plans, including roles/responsibilities
➔ Administrative team crisis plan to support campus leadership
➔ Threat assessment teams at each campus
➔ Computer monitoring software
➔ Automated external defibrillators (AED) and Stop-the-Bleed kits
➔ Joint training between school officials and First Responders
➔ Regular review of the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and Active Threat Plan
➔ Ensure the School Behavioral Threat Assessment teams are trained
➔ Ensure all staff and substitutes are trained on their specific procedures and drills before the start of the school year