Hutto ISD Police Chief Rick Stone said after seven months of design and planning, the HISD Police Department is now building its staff, and he hopes to have the department fully operational by the summer.
“The sole mission given to me was to create a Hutto ISD police department from scratch—to take a blank wall and paint the picture,” Stone said. “That entails hundreds of different facets, and that has been in progress since the first day I was here.”
Stone identified the need to add four experienced, certified police officers to the force, and the district opened and closed the application process in January. Out of a pool of 30 applicants, the district narrowed the list down to the final four.
Stone said there will be five sworn police officers in the department, including himself. Future long-range plans include the addition of two civilian positions—a records manager and a property and evidence manager.
He said the finalists for the four officer positions are in various stages of testing and background investigations.
“If these four individuals pass the remaining steps they will be our first team. As it stands today, I’m confident the four individuals should do well through the background check and other steps,” Stone said.
The police department headquarters is located at 351 Carl Stern Drive behind Hutto High School. District officials spent approximately $460,000 in establishing the police force, and the HISD Police Department is the only school district police force in Williamson County.
“We have one single, solitary mission, and that’s to protect our students, our parents and our staff—simple as that,” Stone said. “We want to inspire excellence, serve as mentors, be good role models for the students and also protect our future.”
Superintendent Doug Killian said there were several factors that led to the creation of the department.
“One, we thought financially it was the right time for us to do it. Two, we wanted to have officers specifically trained for youths in school,” Killian said.
Killian said the launch of the district’s own police force will soon end HISD’s contract with the city of Hutto for providing police protection.
“This year we only had two officers, and we’ve had as many as four, so I think this is just going to be a benefit to the community to have folks available,” Killian said. “We’re growing, and I think a lot of people don’t realize our school district has more than 6,600 students in it and our boundaries are larger than what the city covers.”
Stone said when he created the plan for the department, he developed it in three phases: design, build and implement. He said the design phase has been completed, and the department acquired its certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. He said the department is entering the build phase by bringing staff on board and training officers.
Stone said the plan is strategic in providing safety and accessing all the schools within the district.
“We have to make sure that when we deploy our officers, we have them on the north and south side of the [railroad] tracks, because we can’t afford to have an incident at one of the schools and not be able to get to that location,” Stone said.