Cy-Fair school board OKs patrol pact
The Cy-Fair Independent School District is trying to preserve the relationships forged between some campuses and their long-serving constable deputies.
The district also is exploring forming its own police department.
The issue of security arises from budget cuts enacted by Harris County last month, which are forcing Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman to seek to recoup more costs for providing law enforcement for the district.
"We've been here for over 20 years. Many of the deputies here have spent much of their career in Cy-Fair. We have not quit trying to find a fix for this problem," Hickman said.
The school board on Monday approved an interlocal agreement with Hickman that shifts the entire cost for 24 deputies and a sergeant to the district through the end of 2011 at a cost of $2.7 million. Under the previous agreement, which ends April 22 and cost $2.7 million, the district paid 80 percent of costs to have 38 deputies assigned to its secondary campuses and other facilities as needed. The new contract remains subject to approval by Harris County Commissioners' Court when it meets April 19.
While providing for fewer law enforcement officers than in the past and raising the cost for them, the new contract will give the district additional time to develop a long-term solution for policing its campuses, Superintendent David Anthony said.
One option would be for the district to create its own police department.
Also on Monday, the school board OK'd a request from security director Dave Straughan to apply for certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards, which would enable the district to hire and commission its own peace officers and give his department access to law enforcement information.
Associate Superintendent Teresa Hull said disagreement exists between the district and county about the cost for contract deputies and what that includes.
She indicated the district may be able to provide some of the contract services itself. The district expects to have better figures from the county in August to aid its decision on whether to continue the contract, create its own department or possibly a hybrid model, she added.
"This really allows us to control our own destiny," Hull said of the application to the commission.
Trustee Don Ryan questioned whether the district will be able to retain deputies who have long-standing experience on specific campuses, such as Cy-Fair High School, which his daughter attends.
"Most of the questions I have gotten are, 'Hey, are we still going to have our officer on our campus?'" Ryan said.
With a new agreement in place, Straughan, who also oversees 22 security officers for the district, expects to be able retain deputies most familiar with the secondary schools, at least until a long-term solution is worked out. The decision to assign staff to specific schools was made after he joined the district 15 years ago, he noted.
"They have a legal adviser right there, and a lot of times you can diffuse a situation just by having a deputy there. They have a rapport with the student body, too," Straughan said.
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