Houston ISD's new police chief talks protecting students and plans for department

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD has a new police chief and he's no stranger to the district.

Previously serving as interim chief, Paul Cordova will take the helm of Houston ISD Police Department.

Cordova attended Sam Houston High School and is the son of a retired HISD principal. He spent much of his career in the Harris County Sheriff's Office, but also worked at Rice University before coming to HISD.

He told ABC13 that the department has to be proactive.

"We have to be in constant proactive mode. We cannot wait to react. We have to constantly be interacting with students, teachers and staff. We have to be constantly alert," he said.

Cordova says he understands what a challenge it can be, in light of recent events like the Parkland shooting in Florida and the social media threat at HCC, to secure hundreds of school campuses.

"To date, we've had over 100 threats since Feb. 14 of this year, and we treat every one of those seriously. We have detectives, that if it's social media, a cyber detective immediately goes into investigating - and we're batting almost a thousand on those," he said.

While investigations are ongoing, Cordova says HISD dispatches extra officers to those threatened campuses. He talked, also about his goals for the department. Those include:

  • Northern substation

  • Critical Incident Safety Plan

  • Office of Community Services

Another important goal has to do with how officers make arrests.

"We want to standardize our arrest procedures or charging of crimes, we want to standardize that, so we're treating all students or anyone else the same regardless of what part of town they live in," Cordova said.

When asked about immigration issues, Cordova says the department is not interested in becoming involved in students' status, but if they commit a jailable offense, he cannot make any guarantees about what will happen to an older student that is arrested and has to go to jail.

They should strive, the chief says, to stay out of trouble.
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