'Every day I worry about it': Houston ISD police chief says need exists for more officers, equipment

Sarah Rafique Image
Friday, August 5, 2022
HISD has only 202 officers for 280 schools and facilities, chief says
Houston ISD Police Chief Pete Lopez said the officers on his team are well trained but he's worried about the need for even more officers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As students head back to school in the coming weeks, Houston Independent School District, the state's largest school district, is raising concerns about its own readiness and the need for more equipment for its officers.

In an interview with 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg, Houston ISD Police Chief Pete Lopez said he worries about every single one of his campuses daily.

"I have to, because with a school district this size, we have over 280 campuses and facilities, if you count those like the stadiums and district headquarters. The numbers don't add up," Lopez said. "I only have 202 officers, so obviously, the numbers don't match. I have to put my resources where the calls of service dictate it, like mostly the high schools and middle schools. So the elementary schools, I think about it every day."

Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II said every high school and middle school has a school resource officer on site, and elementary schools have "dedicated patrol units who monitor these areas throughout the day."

Chief Lopez said the officers on his team are well trained and the district is investing even more in training. Still, he said he's concerned about the need for more officers and equipment.

"Every day I worry about it," Lopez said.

This week, House asked for $100,000 in training equipment for HISD officers, telling board members, "If there was an active shooter in HISD, our police department is not prepared."

Next week, the school board will vote on whether or not to purchase the equipment.

On Friday, House said the district spent the summer increasing safety across its schools, including upgrading fences, cameras and video storage capacity.

In a series of tweets on Friday, House said, "As we look forward to a new school year, HISD parents can rest assured that HISD Police, school administrators, and staff will continue to enforce existing safety measures while exploring areas of improvement to ensure the highest standard of safety. As an HISD parent myself, the safety and security of our students and staff is my highest priority. Prior to the tragic events in Uvalde, the administration decided to withhold any cuts to the HISD Police Department within our district for this very reason. Our officers need the proper training and equipment so that the district is prepared for a worst-case scenario. As I shared at our recent Board meeting, our current assessment is that (HISD Police) needs additional equipment and resources to ensure they are prepared to respond to just that kind of situation. That is why we've put forward several safety-related items before the Board for approval on next week's agenda."

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