ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The board of trustees at the Round Rock Independent School District voted Thursday evening on a resolution that would begin the process of creating the district’s own police department.
With the resolution approved, the district can now move forward with the hiring of a chief of police. That person would then work with schools leaders, local law enforcement and the community to possibly create the department, according to the resolution.
Ahead of the meeting, though, a vocal group of people met Tuesday evening to discuss why they opposed this proposal. Some of the attendees said the district first needs to address the discrepancy in discipline for minority students, while others criticized the process of creating a police department as rushed and less than transparent.
RRISD Superintendent Dr. Steve Flores sent out a message the day after the community meeting addressing some of their concerns. He wrote, “I want to be clear, however, that we are at the beginning of this journey and that we will not only keep you, our community, informed of our progress but we are also asking for your input and participation.”
In his message, he also promised to provide certain kinds of training for the officers if a police department is created. “Our own police department would allow us to have control over staffing to ensure that is always the case,” Dr. Flores wrote. “It also allows us to mandate training in areas such as diversity, implicit bias, mental health awareness and restorative discipline practices.”
The superintendent’s letter, however, left some parents feeling unsatisfied. Karen Elliott and Kellyn Bradford, who both have children that attend RRISD schools, are now calling for the board members to hold off on this proposal and allow for more discussion and information to be released.
“Let’s give the community more information because that’s what they want,” Elliott said. “We elected these officials. I would hope that they would listen to what their community is asking for.”
“I think the parents are just shaking their heads,” Bradford added. “That letter yesterday didn’t do anything to help the district’s cause. It was hastily put together and kind of thrown out to the parents and created way more questions than there were answers to.”
The district currently contracts with the Round Rock Police Department, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Community College police to provide resource officers at secondary school campuses. Those agencies, though, face staffing issues of their own, so that stretches their resources thin to offer security at every school.
Given these shortages, Dr. Flores wrote that the district will keep studying whether it can staff its own police department. Some parents, however, said that issue needs to be addressed before the board moves forward.