Lufkin ISD working to hire additional armed security for campuses

HB3 requires at least on officer per campus effective Sept. 1
Lufkin ISD working to hire additional armed security for campuses
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 4:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A new Texas law, House Bill 3, requires that schools hire armed security officers as of Sept. 1.

School safety has become a priority at campuses around the country, and especially in Texas, after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde a year ago.

The state outlines requirements schools need to follow guidelines of HB3, requiring armed security officers at each campus location.

The bill also provides temporary alternatives for school districts who struggle to comply, due to law enforcement shortages and finances, for example.

Lufkin ISD is still working to achieve full compliance.

Lufkin ISD Deputy Superintendent Kurt Stephens said, “shortage of funds is an issue from the state in the sense of mandating and not providing funding, but the other issue is just the shortage of officers.”

Stephens said the plan is to hire commissioned peace officers to provide a safe environment and meet the full requirements of HB 3.

“We added six positions to our force that are vacancies that we’re looking to hire right now, and so that brings us to a total in that department of about 19 officers,” said Stephens.

Stephens said though their department has grown over the years, this mandate required them to increase their staffing, because according to HB3, each campus is required a minimum of one officer.

“In the meantime, we have an agreement with the Lufkin Police Department and they’re providing off-duty officers that will work for us and cover those campuses that we don’t currently have an officer at that’s hired under our department,” said Stephens.

Lufkin Chief of Police David Thomas said they had over 35 officers willing to shift their schedules around their off-duty time to help out.

“We have some uniformed officers in some primary elementary schools that the little kids can see every day and become familiar with, and also as a safety concern, we have an armed officer who’s been through active shooter training and who can respond to any event that happens on campus,” said Thomas.

LISD Chief of Police David Garza said as they work to resolve this issue, having the resources to keep the students safe is the department’s top priority.

“Making sure that there’s no problems. Making sure there’s no security issues ... to protect the kids, provide for the kids, and do what they need to do to keep them safe,” said Garza.

Stephens said the school district plans to have their department fully staffed with district police officers at each campus.

He said they’re unsure when this will be resolved.