BISD receives $718,468 school safety, security grant

The Brownsville Independent School District has received a $718,468 grant from the Texas Education Agency to upgrade radio communications and enhance safety and security measures across the district.

The funding is divided into two areas, according to a grant summary provided by the district:

>> The BISD Police and Security Services Department will receive $409,000 to upgrade radio equipment for all officers, install new cameras in schools across the district and ensure efficient communication within the BISD police department and with neighboring law enforcement agencies.  In addition, BISD police will upgrade and add new cameras at all schools to ensure full and clear coverage of halls and school entrances. Additionally, movable bright-orange safety barriers will be added to ensure the safety of students, parents, and staff at all district events.

>> The Facilities Department will receive $309,468 to upgrade perimeter fencing at several campuses, notably Stillman Middle School, which will be fenced completely with new gates at the front and back. Other campuses will receive partial perimeter fencing upgrades, and camera systems will be upgraded.

The addition of fencing and upgraded camera systems, coupled with the latest communications devices and software upgrades will contribute to the safety of Brownsville ISD’s properties and ensure that BISD police and security officers can protect and assist students, parents and staff for years to come, BISD grants administrator Greg Garcia said.

BISD Police Chief Oscar Garcia said the new cameras and software will allow officers to monitor campus activities both on hand-held personal units and in patrol cars.

Sgt. Edward Martinez holds up one of the BISD police department’s new Motorola APX 6000 digital radio Thursday at the Brownsville ISD Police and Security Services Department building. The grant from the Texas Education Agency will allow the department to fully replace their analog radios with the new digital model. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“This will increase officer safety and improve response times,” he said.

Garcia also said the upgrades will enable better communication with state and federal partners and first responders throughout the Brownsville area. He said the new mobile devices will allow officers patrolling the schools to access cameras anywhere on campus. Previously this capability only existed at the department’s command center on Price Road, he said.

The bright orange traffic barriers included in the grant can be filled with water or sand and are easily moved between locations, he said.

Garcia said the grant is the latest of several BISD has received to upgrade security throughout the district.

The grant summary notes that 10 BISD campuses are in close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, making security measures all the more important.

“The use of this critical funding is aligned to the state and the district’s Emergency Management plan and will upgrade equipment and material to maintain a strong Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan. The district works closely with multiple local law enforcement agencies in preparedness and to be on the same page as the city of Brownsville, Cameron County and the State of Texas,” the summary states.