HOUSTON - Police officers at Houston ISD will now be equipped with hundreds more rifles, shields and radios for the upcoming school year. This comes after HISD board trustees approved an additional $2.3 million in equipment Thursday night.
Trustees passed the budget in a six to three vote just one week after Superintendent Millard House III said the district was not prepared to handle an active shooter situation.
HISD officials said $1.3 million of the budget will go towards upgrading communications with two-way radios. The remaining $1 million will be used to purchase breaching tools to get through doors, 200 rifles, 200 ballistic plates and shields to protect officers that come under fire, and gun safes for storage.
"In light of Uvalde, we have to keep that to the forefront of the possibilities of something occurring in our schools. And we don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive," said trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels, who voted yes on the measure.
"You could turn HISD into the military and still not prevent a single school shooting. Uvalde police were locked and loaded to the tee; they prevented nothing. We as a society have neglected mental health for so long," said trustee Elizabeth Santos, who voted no.
Superintendent House said the equipment is not about militarizing HISD's campuses, but rather, being prepared. House said officers would not carry rifles around campuses but utilize it in an emergency situation.
During the meeting, more than a dozen parents expressed concern for more guns on school campuses. However, Blueford-Daniels says the action was necessary.
"Anybody listening or watching or have children in school, in my case, grandchildren, Who's willing for their child to be sacrificed to save the other 18, 20, 100? Who’s willing? Who’s going to raise their hand?" Blueford-Daniels said.
16 years ago, Kathy’s only son, Patrick, was murdered by a gunman who mistook him for someone else. A white cross in her front yard pays homage to his memory. She says voting yes on Thursday, was her way of making sure no other parent has to endure the pain she feels every day.
"School starts next week, and we need to assure parents that we’re doing all that we can to keep their children safe. We need to ensure teachers, support staff, we’re doing all that we can to keep them safe," Blueford-Daniels said.