Districts add armed guards to elementary schools after deadly shooting in Uvalde

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Districts add armed guards to elementary schools after Uvalde tragedy
Following the mass school shooting in Uvalde, districts in southeast Texas are making security upgrades including adding armed guards at elementary schools.

GALENA PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, districts in southeast Texas are making security upgrades, including adding armed guards at elementary campuses.

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After 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, security changes are being made.

"Our parents send us their most valuable possession every single day," Galena Park ISD Police Chief Bryan Clements said. "We have a responsibility to keep them safe and take care of them."

Clements said officers on campuses are nothing new, and the district has had them for more than two decades.

This school year will be different though. For the first time, each elementary school will have an armed deputy.

"We want to have that presence," Clements explained. "Two things: I want that deputy inside, and I want a vehicle outside so that anybody coming by knows (an armed officer) is there. It's important we have someone there who can respond immediately."

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Galena Park ISD wants to add 19 new deputies. It asked the county commissioner for the extra security on Tuesday.

It will have more than 40 total. It's not the only district adding armed guards at elementary schools.

Deer Park ISD just announced a similar addition on Tuesday. The district plans to put armed officers at its eight elementary schools, increasing the total to 17 officers. The district doesn't have its own police department, so this new program is a partnership with Deer Park and Pasadena police.

Since the tragic shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, some Houston-area school districts are making security changes to protect its students.

Junior and high schools in the district have had a police presence for several years. The district also plans to upgrade security camera and visitor ID systems, secure school entrances, and add radios and lighting.

"Events this year remind us all that we have to continue to take action and do whatever we can to provide a safe learning environment for students and a safe working environment for our employees," Superintendent Stephen Harrell said.

Two DPISD employees who did not want to go on camera said the security upgrades made them feel better about returning to class.

A parent with two elementary-aged students in the district also said she found it comforting.

"It actually makes me feel safer with my kids, knowing they will be safe at school. I don't have to worry, because I really have been getting anxiety about bringing them back to school," Mitchel Morales said.

ABC13 checked with some other districts about any changes being made. Fort Bend ISD said it has armed officers at all middle and high schools, with 69 total officers.

Houston ISD wouldn't tell ABC13 where each officer is located, but said there are 195 officers with 274 schools.

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Galena Park ISD's chief said it's not only more police on campus. The Texas House report released this week revealing flaws with Uvalde CISD's security plan has them reviewing their own, especially regarding school locks.

"The number one thing we can do to keep kids safe is to make sure classroom doors are locked and closed," Clements said. "No active shooter has breached through a locked classroom door."

Galena Park ISD starts school on Aug. 11. By September, the district hopes to have armed deputies in buildings to have all elementary schools staffed.

See full coverage on the deadly mass school shooting in Uvalde.