MAYPEARL

Even before the recent string of school shootings, Maypearl ISD and the Maypearl Police Department had already initiated discussions of a districtwide police department.

And now, the district is prepared to hire its first chief of police.

The decision to move forward came after the district conducted a June 7 town hall meeting to gain vital feedback from the community about school safety.

“There didn’t seem to be anyone in that room who didn’t think we needed to move forward with the ISD police," Maypearl ISD Superintendent Ritchie Bowling assured. "[…] The board members and myself have an understanding that the community supports it and so now we just need to find the right person for the position."

With the aid of a dedicated district police chief, efforts of the Maypearl Police Department will be relieved, and local officers will have more time to conduct thorough investigations.

Bowling nodded to Maypearl Chief of Police Boyd Norton and said, “I know this guy is worked to death and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office is worked to death. And they are all great. They’ve done a wonderful job for us. But it’s one of those things where we would have the speed of maybe getting a resolution to problems a lot quicker.”

The Maypearl ISD Chief of Police will also have the ability to assist with local needs, but the four campuses are the primary focus.

Before the MISD Board of Trustees approved a districtwide police department on June 21, local law enforcement was the primary contact and usually got involved on campuses when a there was criminal activity.

Norton confirmed that city police and the district chief of police would work “hand in hand.” The Maypearl police department is comprised of the chief, another full-time office, and about six reserve officers.

Reserve officers undergo the same training as any other police officer and are hired as non-paid volunteers. In Maypearl they are used to augment the short staff.

A UNIQUE DEPARTMENT

“Chief Boyd initially brought up this idea of getting a Maypearl Police officer dedicated to the school district. And I guess it was this time last year that he brought that to me,” Bowling relayed.

Bowling worked closely with Keene, Whitney and Red Oak ISDs for advice. Keene ISD — 35 miles west of Maypearl — played a predominant role due to the relatable size of the campuses.

The district police department with Keene ISD has a staff of one — a chief of police. The MISD Police Department will mirror that same model.

Once the district police station is on its feet, Bowling hopes to add reserve officers to each campus. Bowling plans to continue to use the Maypearl Police Department reserve officers for after school events.

When a chief of police is hired, that individual will begin the process of establishing the department with the State of Texas through Texas Commission of Law Enforcement, the state law agency in Austin. It will take about four months to acquire the certification.

“They are going to have a unique opportunity, and they are going to be starting their own police department from the ground up,” Norton emphasized.

Once certified by the state, the chief will obtain a police-marked vehicle, uniforms, evidence safe and more police paraphernalia. They will be dispatched through Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, and the chief will need to establish that relationship and with other Ellis County law enforcement agencies with juvenile departments and child protective services.

The MISD Police Department will be housed at Maypearl High School.

“My expectation is that you will see them [chief] at all four campuses throughout the day,” Bowling relayed.

“I give it one good school year, and they will be up and running,” Norton assured.

THE IDEAL CANDIDATE

“First off they have to meet all of the TCOL standards," Norton explained. "You are going to want them to have some supervising experience. You’re going to need them to have great social skills to communicate not only with administrators, school faculty but also with kids."

The chief will need to establish positive relationships with students and also be able to detach themselves if there is an issue and handle the situation. Some investigative experience is essential.

“There are a lot of skills we are looking for,” Norton said.

This person will also serve as the school security administrator to train personnel, evaluate facilities and review safety audits and improve the weak areas.

“We have done a lot of things off of audits but now having someone on hand that can be the daily eyes and ears of those situations,” Bowling explained.

The Maypearl ISD Board of Trustees will adopt a policy in July to officially launch a district police department.

The job is posted on the district website, www.Maypearlisd.org and https://www.teacherjobnet.org, along with the Texas Municipalities League TML.

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450