Montgomery ISD Chief of Police Marlon Runnels presented safety and security updates that have been implemented in recent months, including security vestibules, bulletproof glass at all campuses, 200 additional security cameras, intruder hardware on campus doors with controlled access keys, new ID cards for all students and increased mental health training for officers.
"I'm really proud of that," Runnels said at the meeting. "It's necessary we continue to make commitments to the mental health aspect of what it is that we do, especially when dealing with our kids. When a kid might be in crisis, you don't want an officer to come and handle it the wrong way because they're not familiar with concepts of mental health."
Hiring four new officers is in the works, with two candidates going through background checks currently. There is also a Crime Stopper phone line to report criminal activities and an anonymous line to report bullying.
"Many items we're going over have been highlighted in Gov. [Greg] Abbott's [school safety plan] report—we're already implementing most of these, or they were already practiced in our district," Runnels said. "I was really proud when the report came out to see we're already doing this, we're already doing that."
Officers are also working on improving communication with school counselors, addressing threat assessments and installing active-shooter software to monitor social media posts from the schools' geolocations.
Last year, MISD received 10 school-shooter threats between December and May, resulting in three arrests, Runnels said.
"Investment in Social Sentinel software is money well spent, and I think we'll definitely benefit from it in our investigations," Runnels said.
Runnels said they are also continuing random safety and security drills including lockdown drills, and will be starting a situational awareness program to check if students or staff have left visible belongings in parked cars.
"We want to do preventative measures," Runnels said. "These things typically lead to crimes of opportunity, and we don't want that to start festering."
In other news Tuesday, the board:
- Unanimously approved campus improvement plans.
- Unanimously approved an updated student athlete handbook, which includes setting boundaries and expectations for student athletes and parents that includes spectator behavior.
- Unanimously approved the 2018-19 budget.