JUST IN: Round Rock ISD board officially creates a district police department

Following nearly three years of discussion and community input, the Round Rock ISD board of trustees officially authorized the formation of the Round Rock ISD Police Department on Feb. 20.

The board voted 7-0 to adopt a resolution that “approves the creation [of] and does create the RRISD PD.”

The resolution does not stipulate funding for the department nor does it specify the number of officers who will be hired.

Safety and security

Since the mid-1990s, RRISD has partnered with multiple law-enforcement agencies—Round Rock Police Department, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Community College—to provide school resource officers on middle school and high school campuses.

In March 2017, Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks notified RRISD Superintendent Steve Flores that due to staffing demands his department could not provide school resource officers beyond the 2020-21 academic year.

Since, the board of trustees, district staff and a citizens task force have been working toward finding a number of long-term solutions for campus safety and security.

“School resource officers are just one component of our safety and security initiatives,” Jeffrey Yarbrough, director of safety and security for the district, told Community Impact Newspaper in August. “We’re making sure we use all of our resources so that Round Rock is the safest district it can possibly be.”

In October, the RRISD board instructed Flores to proceed with the formation of the Round Rock ISD Police Department. At that time, district staff began the required Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, or TCOLE, application process, Yarbrough said Feb. 20.

At the December board meeting, trustees passed a motion to continue moving forward with the formation of the RRISD PD.

Next steps

With the board's Feb. 20 resolution to create the RRISD PD, Yarbrough said next steps include completing the TCOLE application process.

"The clock is ticking and has been ticking," Trustee Mason Moses said. "I want to make sure we're at least making good progress so we can be in the best position to be prepared for what we have known has been coming."

Once TCOLE receives the application, they can approve it within about 30 days, Yarbrough said.

Additional next steps include submitting Memorandums of Understanding to agencies with overlapping jurisdictions, including the city of Round Rock, the city of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County; discussing dispatch solutions with law enforcement agencies; and working with human resources to develop staffing models that will help to hire and onboard new officers, Yarbrough said.

As early as Monday, Flores said, he hopes to initiate a search for a RRISD PD police chief. The search could be statewide or national in scope, he said.

By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


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