AUSTIN (KXAN) — With almost two weeks until the start of school, we are getting a better look now at how districts are preparing. Austin ISD’s new police chief Wayne Sneed sat down with KXAN and answered some questions about security and budget before the school year kicks off.
We know safety and security are the main focus for parents, especially in the wake of Uvalde, and there are some concerns with older infrastructure, among other things. What are some new steps that you all are taking to really ensure the safety of students?
Chief Sneed: Well, I’m not sure if you’re aware that there have been over 100 new, independent school district police departments created in Texas since 2017. The Austin ISD Police Department has been in existence since 1986. That was pre-Columbine and all the other tragedies that have followed. We feel really confident that the steps that we’ve taken and the policies and procedures and protocols that we put in place, are going to be adequate to ensure that our students are safe.
And you have an extensive history and leading the Mental Health and Community Engagement unit, we’ve done a story with you recently on that. So how will that inform the policies and the procedures that you implement moving forward?
Chief Sneed: We continue to work diligently every day with our social emotional learning and our counseling department to ensure that we provide the necessary support for our students who may be struggling with various types of crises in their lives. And I think with the protocols that we have in place that we provide the support along with our external partners in our community, like integral care and some of our local hospitals, that we can provide the necessary support that our students and their families will need.
Budget changes, staffing shortages, those are hitting districts across our area, really across the nation really hard. So how will that impact the department that you’re leading now?
Chief Sneed: We feel very confident that with the resources that we have available, we can provide the coverage and the support to ensure that the safety and security of our students and our staff on our campuses stays a priority and we meet the needs.