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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2002 12:00 am

School district-run police force discussed

Education: Campus reported 30 criminal incidents in February.

BY KEVIN GARCIA

THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD

Los Fresnos High School was the scene of some 30 criminal incidents in

February, according to Police Chief Johnny Cavazos.

The incidents range from assault to narcotics to criminal entry and theft.

The information came to light during the March 25 Los Fresnos City Council

meeting when Cavazos read the citys crime statistics report for the month of

February.

These are just reported cases, Cavazos noted. I would venture to say that a

lot of it goes unreported.

Four officers from the citys police department patrol the campus.

Some residents raised the possibility of the school district forming its own

police department, as other districts have done.

They (LFCISD) have the authority in the state of Texas to form a police

department for the school district, Cavazos said, noting that the district

covers an area much larger than the city of Los Fresnos, and that officers

assigned to the school cannot attend to the outlying areas.

While the prospect of a police force for the district has come up in the past,

school board members said, the current arrangement with the city has provided

the school with adequate security.

We talked about it a couple of years ago and it wasnt right for Los Fresnos

at that time, explained board president Adela Garza.

We have the (city) police at the high school, she said. The other (schools

in the district) are elementaries, and usually we dont have problems at

elementaries. Maybe well need them at the middle school at some point, but

we havent had that need.

Currently the district has a contract with the city that allows four police

officers to be assigned to the high school, in addition to the six private

security officers also working there. Cavazos said the contract requires to

district to pay approximately $95,000 for the four full-time officers.

It is less money than what it costs me in salary alone, Cavazos said. The

city is actually subsidizing their contract with the police department.

I dont think that is correct, said school board member A. N. Vallado.

We only have 187 school days and I dont think that we should pay for more

than 187 days, he explained. We dont need 24-hour-a-day protection because

the kids are not there more than eight hours.

Vallado added that if the district were to establish a police force, it would

be responsible for paying for an office, vehicles and other elements necessary

for a department. He noted that these things already exist in the city, making

the current arrangement beneficial for the district.

But, a district-run police department could serve to enforce district

policies, such as the dress code, in addition to criminal laws, Vallado said.

Currently officers can only enforce city laws.

If we had our own police, he said, they would do both.

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