Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the Tomball Police Department has until June to fulfill its contract of providing 16 officers to Tomball ISD, per Police Chief Jeffrey Bert.

Tomball ISD is set to add four new school resource officers to its slate of 12 officers after the Tomball ISD board of trustees approved an interlocal agreement with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office during its Jan. 10 meeting. This new interlocal agreement joins the district’s existing interlocal agreement with the Tomball Police Department, through which its 12 officers are provided.

In a letter to TISD staff and families, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said the growth of the district was one of the reasons for this new interlocal agreement.

“This level of district growth has exceeded the level of [Tomball Police Department] law enforcement services needed within the city of Tomball, as many of our schools are outside of the city limits,” Salazar-Zamora said in the letter. “Our current and future district growth has outpaced the growth and needs of the city of Tomball.”

The interlocal agreement with Tomball Police Department, amended last September, was set to provide the district with 16 officers for the 2022-23 school year. Police Chief Jeffrey Bert said in mid- to late 2022, the department’s hiring rate was temporarily outpaced by its vacancy rate, but the department has until June to provide the officers for the district.

“As such, the department changed deployment models in October to ensure patrol shifts still had ample coverage to provide excellent, timely service while continuing to fulfill our obligations to TISD as delineated in our most recent interlocal agreement,” Bert said via email Jan. 30.

Bert also said when it comes to hiring officers, around 1 out of 70 applicants to the police department makes it through the process and is hired.

“While the allure of being fully staffed is certainly enticing, as the chief of police, I am much more concerned with finding the right officer possessing the maturity, character, empathy and grit required to wear this uniform with honor and integrity,” Bert said.

With TISD’s school board having approved the interlocal agreement, it now will need to be approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court.

“We hope for and anticipate approval to welcome new SROs in the district by the end of March 2023,” Salazar-Zamora said.

Bert said the police department is also supportive of the district’s new interlocal agreement.

“Precinct 4 is a top-notch agency that will, no doubt, continue to make our school district even safer,” Bert said.