BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — People are pouring into Central Texas by the hundreds every day. And as the cities grow, so do the schools and concerns about safety.
Bastrop ISD is one of the latest to have its own police department.
“We don’t want our officers to be minutes away when seconds count,” said Bastrop ISD Police Chief, Jeffrey Yarbrough. “We’re able to address issues that arise almost instantly.”
In the small department of four, each officer brings something big to the table. “I’ve always loved to interact and help with youth,” says Officer Javier Flores. Flores is fluent in both Spanish and English.
They’ve also hired a mental health officer.
“We have officers that are trained in critical incidents. We have hostage negotiators that have been trained,” said Chief Yarbrough. “We have brought that talent to our school district.”
Students at Cedar Creek High School say they’re forming positive relationships with the officers.
“There has definitely been a change,” said Hannah Thompson, a junior. “The police officers are more involved with students; they’re not so much a foreboding force.”
Chief Yarbrough says the district is growing fast, and the call volumes have been going up.
“We want to make sure as a district that we haven taken the appropriate steps to ensure the school safety and increase the security levels,” said Yarbrough. “So that in the unfortunate event that something were to occur, we’re able to respond effectively.”
They’re working to protect over 10,000 students, in a region spanning 450 square miles.
Next week on Tuesday, the community is invited to come meet with the department at the Cedar Creek Middle School library.
A Spanish-speaking only session starts at 5:30 p.m., and English starts at 6:30 p.m.
The school is located at 125 Voss Parkway, Cedar Creek, TX 78612.