TYLER, Texas (KETK) — Tyler ISD has made plans to increase the security of its facilities by purchasing additional safety equipment and more vehicles for the Tyler ISD Police Department.
The Tyler ISD Board of Trustees approved the purchase of safety equipment and additional vehicles for the district police department on Monday.
“As a dad myself, the safety and security of all our children and staff keep me up at night,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said. “Along with providing the best education for all students, this is a top priority for the district.”
Tyler ISD said in a release that they are committed to ensuring all students and staff are safe and secure.
“The district is well ahead of state and national efforts regarding the safety and security of students and staff. Several communities across the state have contacted Tyler ISD to learn more about the district’s efforts to meet today’s safety and security needs,” the release stated.
In 2019, Tyler ISD administration made the decision to be proactive with their approach toward the safety of students and staff and Superintendent Marty Crawford launched the #safeTISD leadership team to focus on school safety.
Crawford hired Jeff Millslagel, a retired FBI special agent as the district’s director of safety and security.
“Our Tyler ISD police force did a great job and continues to do so, but the school safety and security landscape has changed, and I knew we needed someone with this level of experience on our team to accomplish our safety and security goals,” Crawford said.
According to a release, Millslagle secured a $300,000 school safety and security grant for bullet-resistant film, two-way radios, cameras and perimeter fencing. The district also added two more retired FBI special agents to the safety and security team.
Tyler ISD has the third largest law enforcement agency in Smith County, after the Smith County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Tyler Police. The district said that all Tyler ISD police officers have completed the Active Shooter Response for School-Based Law Enforcement class, including training beyond the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) program.
The district said that they hold annual safety and security audits that the Texas School Safety Center approves. All staff is trained annually on specific district and campus safety procedures including active shooter training, and mandatory drills are scheduled before the start of the school year. Each campus has a school behavioral threat assessment team that is trained and has reviewed procedures for that campus, the district said in a release.
Officials say that Tyler ISD expanded its camera system with about 2,000 cameras monitoring safety and all entrances to visitors. They have improved outdoor lighting and updated school bus camera systems.
“The district takes significant steps to keep safety measures ongoing and year-round,” Millslagle said. “These include assessment of access control procedures, including single access points, locked instruction room doors, visitor check-in procedures and exterior access points.”
Tyler ISD said that it will install warning systems on all exterior doors throughout the district and plans to add more cameras, fencing and security film at some campuses.
The district is considering the Guardian Program, which if approved, the board of trustees and superintendent would be able to authorize specific district employees to have access to certain firearms in schools, at board meetings and at school-sponsored or school-related events on District property, to the extent allowed by law.
Each employee approved to have access would have hours of specialized training in crisis intervention, management of hostage situations and other topics the board may determine necessary.
“Any implementation of this strategy will be tightly examined and hyper-selective considering deployment location and the availability of personnel. The district sees this as an extra line of defense to ensure the safety of our students and staff and will always first rely on our Tyler ISD Police force and partnerships with local law enforcement agencies,” Crawford said.
Tyler ISD plans to install vape detectors, a new app for students to report bullying-related activity, send safety tips about school incidents and access to safety resources during an emergency.
The district will also launch an app allowing parents to track their students as they board and exit the buses.
“Let’s be honest, school safety work is never done, and we are committed to the ongoing effort to address issues that will keep our students and staff safe within our walls so we can focus on successful student outcomes,” Crawford said.