Audit shows Texas enhanced school safety measures proving effective

Following the tragic shooting in Uvalde, the state decided to audit school safety measures in every district. Results of that audit have finally come down, with it showing that in 95% of cases, inspectors could not gain unauthorized access to schools.

In days not too far past, even when this writer was in school some 15 years ago, there were plenty of doors unlocked midday. It was also a much different world back in the year 2006, as silly as that may sound.

Former School Resource Officer Catherine Smit-Torrez says now, it is a big step in a dangerous society.

"This tells me the schools are was not uncommon that certain doors were left, people are listening to the instructions given by safety plans, and know that locked doors save time, and save lives," she says.

But obviously having locked doors is not the end all solution. Danger can come at any time, and most of the time with school issues, comes from within the school.

"You can have a fellow student who is upset and has a plot to shoot up a, you cannot be at total ease," she says. "Everyone's alarms should be up every day, to listen and watch. Especially people in the classrooms...they need to know when someone has a vengeance, or a plot."

That is easier said than done, of course, as plenty of kids can silently hold things internally, until acting on it. Point being, 'safe' is not a certainity in schools, as upsetting as that is to hear.

But these efforts are not alone. The State of Texas has pushed through House Bill 3, a new law that goes in effect September 1st, which required an armed guard/officer to be present at every single campus in the state. It sounds easy, but that is a task with a challenge.

"It is very difficult for districts to find qualified people, it cannot just be a warm body," she says. "It has to be someone who has a passion to work with students...these are officers who will be emotionally involved in these kids' lives. It is not just a cop on patrol. You need to be able to talk with them different."

Now, school is beginning, or has already begun, across Houston. Particularly in Houston ISD though, there is an issue complying with that new law. The district currently has 217 officers on their staff, and 274 district campuses total. The district has said there are enough to cover middle and high schools, but not the elementaries.

Districts can apply for a 'good cause' exemption from the law, in cases like HISD's. But beyond that, there is somewhat of an alternative option to at least try to help deter anyone with evil ideas.

"You can take a marked unit, park it in front of the school, and that at least gives the perception that there is an armed officer in the school," she says.

HISD has not been able to confirm when they might be able to pull within compliance of the law. School begins for HISD on August 28th.

Photo: Catherine McQueen / Moment / Getty Images

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