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As Paris Independent School District students and teachers got back to work Monday, they did so with a little more security than they’ve had in the past.
Monday was also the first day of school for Paris ISD’s new police force, the Department of Safety and Security. Parents should not see any difference, other than the fact that PISD now has more officers, DSS Director Brad Ruthart said.
“We have one officer at every campus. We feel that having that will increase the security for the district,” Ruthart said. “We will be working 100 percent under the roof of the school, with the exception of monitoring the parking lot.”
Before, Paris ISD had an agreement with the city to provide two officers, one at the high school and one at the junior high.
In addition to Ruthart, the PISD-DDS is comprised of: Joey McCarthy at the high school, Kyle Martin at Paris Junior High, Billy Jordan at Crockett Middle School, Donny Winton at Aikin Elementary and Don Howell at Justiss Elementary.
Ruthart has worked as a school resource officer for 13 of his 15 years with Paris Police Department, and although he previously served as a school resource officer at the high school, he is now stationed at Givens Early Childhood Center.
“I’ve been here a long time, and I will miss the staff and all the students, but we felt this would be a good arrangement,” he said.
Paris ISD has had to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The school board first discussed forming a police department in June. Since then, the district has had to file an application with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, go through applications and hire six officers , establish uniforms and badges and get them ordered, and set up guidelines and agreements with the Paris Police Department.
The uniform is a navy blue polo shirt embroidered with the department’s badge and officer’s name and khaki “tactical” pants, which have a lot of pockets.
“It’s a relaxed uniform,” Ruthart said.
A school district police force is nothing unusual, Ruthart said. When PISD made its application to TCLEOSE, 30 other districts had also filed. In the area, Chisum, Mount Pleasant and Sulphur Springs also have district police.
The arrangement gives PISD total control over its own safety and security, although its officers work under the same laws and regulations as any other police force. The job description does not include discipline of students, Ruthart said. That job still belongs to the administrators. PISD-DDS is concerned only with security.
“We are the police department, so we’re able to conduct the department as we need it,” he said. “It gives the district the ability to place officers where we want and work the events we need.”
By Jeff Parish, eParisExtra