Grace Larner | Corridor News Reporter
This article has been updated to correct a mixup of the attribution of comments; the comments were wrongly attributed to Chief Deputy Mike Davenport instead of Interim Police Chief Bob Klett for San Marcos PD.
The San Marcos City Council considered the approval of an Interlocal Agreement with San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District for Police Officers to serve as School Resource Officers (SRO).
On behalf of the city of San Marcos, the council unanimously voted their approval of Resolution 2020-154R.
Council Member Maxfield Baker raised questions about adding police officers to schools in a partnership with the school district.
“I felt like this was a place to carve our assurances that these school resource officers are being used to their best and full use of their abilities and we are doing everything we can to mitigate the negative consequences of having school resource officers on campus,” said Baker.
He asked the council if this was an opportunity to look into increased requirements for these officers as well as data tracking.
According to Interim Police Chief Bob Klett, San Marcos is successful because of the rigorous selection process. It involves a selection of interesting candidates as well as working with partners in school districts.
“We have a very close, working relationship with them, not only in the selection but in the way they are deployed on a daily basis,” said Klett. “Each individual campus has different needs. Their principles have different expectations and we work very hard with those partners to make sure that we have the best possible delivery.
Klett mentioned there are very high-performance expectations for how SROs do their jobs much like police officers.
“It is very much a point of mentoring and counseling with the kids. When the needs arise, also having to do the security aspects of the job. We make sure that we keep the right SROs on campus, and I think in our 20 years, there have been very few problems,” said Klett.
Councilwoman Melissa Derrick asked the Chief what kind of training officers received in learning disabilities and mental health conditions of students.
According to Klett, there has been training improvement to work on the depths of different kinds of students. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement has added forward-thinking tactics and training to Texas police officers.
“The role of an SRO is not strictly enforcement based. It’s mentoring, counseling and being a presence on campus; having a relationship with these kids, which is pretty special,” said Klett.
Additionally, Council Member Mark Rockeymoore contributed his experience as a paired professional in the focus unit, or behavioral unit of San Marcos High School from 2015 to 2018.
He facilitated the education of kids with behavioral issues and trained in SOMA which is a restraint method involving physical and verbal methods.
“I worked very closely with SROs at our high school. I trust Interim Police Chief Bob Klett and the policies in place to support officers, our SROs,” said Rockymoore. “When there was an incident of a kid being restrained or removed from the school, the officers always referred to us, to those who were trained in the restrain methods or verbal methods before they came and intervened and did what was necessary to make sure the situation was handled correctly.”
Based on his own experience in San Marcos High School, Rockymoore said he has 100% faith in police officers and does not see an issue with the way they are doing things now.
Furthermore, to ensure the safety of students, camera body policies are put in place to record all interactions between SROs and students.
The SMCISD school board has accepted this agreement for police officers to serve as SROs and the city council also voted in agreement as well as considered a future discussion of policies separate from the contract.