Fort Worth area schools increase security in wake of the Uvalde shooting

·3 min read
Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes wants to increase security at the city’s schools.

Noakes on Wednesday pledged to an increased police presence at school, with neighborhood patrol officers and community police volunteers showing up to provide extra security.

The department is in contact with all area school districts, Noakes said, and is dedicating some of its intelligence resources to detect and prevent school violence.

More needs to be done to pass meaningful gun safety legislation, said Fort Worth schools Superintendent Kent Scribner.

He acknowledged the district has received funding through the narrowly passed 2021 school bond to add more security to middle school entrances, but said the district needs a comprehensive approach to combat school shootings.

He discouraged the idea of arming individual teachers, saying more guns in schools wouldn’t necessarily make students safe.

“We have 5,600 teachers, and I have half a dozen every week who lose their ID badges,” Scribner said. “I would hate to have a teacher forget her gun.”

The district uses the Campus Crime Stoppers Friends 4 Life program to allow students to call out troubling behavior before it escalates to school violence.

“That information and building trust with the student body is one of the best safety strategies,” Scribner said.

The Arlington school district also uses the program, spokesperson Anita Foster wrote in an email. The district also partners with Arlington police to conduct threat assessments, which can help identify concerning behavior and prevent violence, Foster wrote.

The Keller school district increased patrols from Fort Worth and Keller police departments in response to the Uvalde shooting, a spokesperson wrote in an email to the Star-Telegram. The district is also increasing the visibility of its security officers through the last few days of the school year.

Keller employs 23 security specialists, five of whom are mobile, and has seven school resource officers, according to the school district’s website.

The Northwest school district, which covers parts of Tarrant, Denton and Wise counties, has two school resource officers per high school with the exception of its early college high school.

All middle schools have one dedicated officer, and elementary schools get support from officers at the other campuses, according to an email from school Superintendent David Hicks.

Northwest contracts with police departments in the 14 municipalities covered by the district to provide resource officers for its campuses, a district spokesperson said.

Mayor Mattie Parker said she didn’t have answers Tuesday, but suggested more could be done to increase the number of schools that have dedicated resource officers.

Right now only high schools and some middle schools have school resource officers, but Parker said that needs to be expanded to elementary schools.

She suggested retired police officers could augment the Fort Worth police department by volunteering to protect schools.

“I’ve had outreach mostly through social media in the last 24 hours saying, ‘I want to do something’ mostly from retired officers themselves,” Parker said.

Any solution needs to be bipartisan, Parker said, including discussions about gun control and mental health.

She pointed to her record of consensus building on the Fort Worth city council, and said she hoped the city could be a leader in finding ways to better protect students from gun violence.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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