Temple leaders talk school safety collaboration
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - State Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple held a forum Monday with Temple ISD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott, Chief of Police Shawn Reynolds and Temple Mayor Tim Davis at the Temple Chamber of Commerce for the group to discuss school safety with a group of community members in light of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The Temple leaders say they already have one another on speed dial and that collaboration between their entities is a key to success when it comes to protecting students.
“Its not uncommon for Dr. Ott and I to have late night [phone] conversations,” Reynolds explained.
During the discussion Monday, Ott says he thinks a strength at Temple ISD are their cameras, the amount they have, the quality of them and the monitoring of them that goes on.
“We have camera to match every line of sight and we have camera monitoring stations at every campus as well so it gives us a really good view of what’s happening,” Ott explained.
Looking to the future, he says adding more cameras is always helpful, as well as adding exterior fencing to campuses and more school resource officers. Between their 15 campuses they currently have seven school resource officers and seven security guards.
Temple police say following Uvalde they’re making sure they have the tools they need to get through any barrier in an active shooter situation.
“We don’t want to have access be a problem for us if we need to get in a door we want the ability to have the right breaching tools available so we are ensuring we have that available in the field,” Reynolds said.
He says he also wants his staff to do live training in area schools in the coming months.
“There are lots of facilities so anytime we can get exposure see the layout in a real world environment that’s generally the best training,” he added.
At the end of the meeting, community members had a chance to ask questions about the collaboration between entities.
One question raised was about whether or not TISD and Temple PD are working together to arm staff in the district.
Dr. Ott explained he had conversations about armed staff with a previous police chief who expressed concern with a staff members ability to use a firearm accurately in a high stress situation, but says he and Chief Reynolds can sit down to have the discussion themselves.
“My preference is not to arm staff, my preference is to add more School Resource Officers, people who are skilled and trained,” Ott said.
Attendees also asked if officers need permission before taking action in a school shooter situation.
“Post Columbine we were told to wait for four officers to have a team to go in but that’s not really the requirement anymore,” Reynolds explained.
He says after Uvalde he connected with every officer on his force to make sure they knew his stance on the issue.
“You don’t need permission you’re trained professionals and if [an officer] needs to go in and take care of business that’s what I want [them] to do,” he said.
Ott, Reynolds, Shine and Davis say the conversation on school safety will continue. Shine is holding a meeting with every superintendent in Bell County Tuesday for further collaboration.
In the mean time, thanks to a bond passed earlier this year, Ott says the district will be busy this summer increasing safety at some of its older campus buildings.
“The security vestibules we are adding to our three remaining campuses are the very first architect project that will be right out of the gate,” Ott said.
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