HOUSTON - The Uvalde school shooting is fresh on the minds of many as the new school year is now just days away. A number of parents and students say they have several safety concerns, particularly after hearing the Houston Independent School District Superintendent say, "If there was an active shooter in HISD our police department is not prepared."
Superintendent Millard House II says, "as an HISD parent myself, the safety and security of our students and staff is my highest priority," and he says there is certain equipment the district needs to ensure HISD police officers are prepared and ready for an active shooter.
"What I do know is if there was an active shooter in HISD, our police department is not prepared," Superintendent House said at Thursday night’s board meeting.
Those are certainly not words parents, students, or school staff want to hear, but the HISD Superintendent says there is equipment his police department needs to become prepared.
"200 rifles, 200 ballistic plates, shields as well, and rifle ammunition, to qualify our officers. Right now, as we’ve studied the Uvalde scenario and looked at what proper preparation needs to be in place, our officers would not have been prepared," House says.
"I’m confident on the alert training, active shooter training officers have received, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in preparing our officers to encounter a suspect without the proper equipment," says HISD Chief of Police Pedro Lopez Jr.
In fact, Lopez says the district’s police officers need, "actual scenario-based training with live fire and shields. We need to learn how to maneuver those doors. How to overcome breaching those doors, and we don’t have the equipment in order to do that. An example is, we’ve all seen that horrible video and those scenes at Uvalde when we have officers standing there with the shields, but they didn’t take any action and that was because of the lack of preparation and training."
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says that’s why there are multiple layers of protection for area schools, including the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and Constable’s Offices to assist HISD’s police force.
"They have a limited force. So to expect them to cover every one of their schools, with the limited resources they have, is going to be difficult, but that’s where the city of Houston will step in," Mayor Turner explained and added he still wants to see gun reform.
Superintendent House says the necessary additional equipment is on next week’s agenda for board approval, and he says a number of increased safety measures have been put in place over the summer, including surveillance cameras and upgraded fencing.