The Rosenberg City Council voted last week to end its long-running School Resource Officer program after Lamar Consolidated ISD refused to add more cops on campuses, a city leader said.
LCISD has repeatedly denied requests for additional officers even though the Rosenberg Police Department says it can’t protect students and staff with the officers it has assigned, city councilman Jacob Balderas told The Herald.
“For three years we’ve tried to get LCISD to add more officers to the (School Resource Officer Program), to ensure campuses were properly staffed and secure,” Balderas said. “And for the past three years our request has been turned down, so the council decided to notify LCISD the Rosenberg Police Department would no longer be a part of the (program), effective 18 months from now.”
LCISD Supt. Dr. Thomas Randle did not respond to Balderas’ numerous allegations but did offer a comment.
“Lamar CISD has enjoyed a strong and collaborative partnership with the Rosenberg Police Department for more than 20 years to provide our students and staff with a safe learning environment,” Randle said in an email to The Herald. “We value the officers who provide excellent services to our campuses through the SRO program and the district will continue to work with the Rosenberg Police Department as we transition into this next phase of growth.”
Balderas said the arrangement has been contentious at times, particularly when the request for more officers is made. RPD has provided armed security at campuses since 1998.
The school district reimburses RPD for salaries, cost of equipment and patrol vehicles plus a 10% administrative fee. RPD presently has 18 officers assigned to the School Resource Officer program, but the police department believes an additional 17 are needed to properly secure campuses – or one officer per 1,000 students, Balderas said.
Balderas said the contract between the city and LCISD gives the school district sole right to add more officers to the School Resource Officer program. The contract also requires city staff, and the police chief, to communicate directly with Randle, and not the school board, Balderas explained.
Because of that, Balderas said, the school board has not been given the opportunity to review the request.
“Even though school board members were elected by the public, an un-elected bureaucrat is making all the decisions,” Balderas said. “Dr. Randle has consistently and blatantly ignored our chief of police’s request for more officers. Even though three new schools have opened, Dr. Randle has refused to add even one more officer. This whole issue starts and stops at Randle’s desk.”
Balderas said the final straw came when a brawl broke out at Terry High School last fall and RPD sent officers from other campuses to quell the riot.
“Our police department was forced to send officers from every other campus to the riot at Terry, and that left the other campuses exposed,” Balderas explained.
When the city first entered into the SRO contract with LCISD, the school district only had two high schools, two middle schools, two junior high schools and five to six elementary schools, Balderas said. It now has five high school campuses, five junior high schools, five middle schools and 26 elementary schools, and more campuses being built, he said.
“LCISD keeps growing year after year and the school district refuses to allow the police department to add more officers,” Balderas said. “It’s insane. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the vulnerability in the school district’s security. In this day and age, lives depend on (secure campuses). In today’s age, you cut your athletic budget before you cut your security budget.”
Balderas said he decided to break with the rest of the council and talk to The Herald about the issue because he wants citizens to know that the city and RPD did everything they could to get more cops into schools.
“There are people out there looking for weaknesses in schools’ security, and one day someone will figure out our weaknesses and take advantage of it.”
Balderas said he is bewildered the council did not discuss the issue publicly.
“We’ve been studying the problem at the past 4-5 council meetings but for some reason the rest of the council won’t discuss the issue publicly,” he said. “I think it’s important that the community knows the problem lies with Dr. Randle and not the city or the police department. At the end of the day, it’s the superintendent’s duty to protect the students, faculty and staff.”
Balderas also blasted the school board for allowing Dr. Randle to place student and staff in jeopardy.
“They’re more interested in protecting Dr. Randle than they are protecting schools.”