On August 23, Poteet ISD Superintendent Charles Camarillo, Poteet Police Chief Bruce Hickman and Poteet ISD Police Chief Willie Mendes and Officer Jason Velasquez revealed their school safety plan for faculty, staff and students in the case of an emergency situation during the school year.
“We always do an active shooter presentation for the staff that teaches them what to do in the case of an active shooter situation or any emrgency,” said PISD Chief Mendes. He and Officer Velasquez also presented to the upcoming freshman at Fish Camp orientation.
“We warn them about social media since it’s so popular amongst their age group and that once it’s on there, it stays there and to report if something is happening.”
When asked about safety measures they are taking for this school year, Superintendent Camarillo said he has stressed to his staff the importance of always being aware of what’s going on around them.
“They should always be aware of who their students are, their behavior and should form a good relationship with them,” he said.
“Most of the time, the students are always the first to know what is going on and if teachers maintain those relationships, students will trust the staff enough to disclose what is going on.”
Chief Mendes commented on some issues they’ve come across with their buildings, particularly their classroom doors.
“Our doors open out into the hallways. We spoke with the fire department and had some hoses donated to us so we can wrap them around the scissor action hinges on our doors to prevent an intruder coming in.”
Mendes and Camarillo also said the school constantly undergoes drills throughout the year in preparation of fires, bomb threats, active shooter situations and even bad weather.
Poteet PD Chief Bruce Hickman also shed some light on the police department’s role in keeping PISD safe.
“I constantly have units patrolling school zones in the mornings and the evenings to ensure everything is running as it should be. As two small units, we have constant communication and a great work relationship.”
Chief Hickman called in extra manpower during the first week of school and brought in some traffic control devices to help maintain the flow of traffic during drop-offs and pick-ups. He also explained a program they have amongst the PISD staff called Cop Sync 911.
“Every computer in every classroom has an icon on it and if something happens, a teacher can hit that button. After so many seconds, it’s going to automatically alert the closest five officers that something is going on. It’s not an alarm, but a portal where the teacher can type what is going on. The dispatcher can even respond back to assure that someone is on their way.”
In January, PISD and Poteet PD are switching to a system under the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s cost effective because it is in conjunction with the ACSO and works a little bit different. Once that button is hit, every officer in Atascosa County will know that something is going on at this school,” said Chief Hickman.
PISD Officer Jason Velasquez also commented how he and Chief Mendes maintain a close relationship with the students.
“We build a good rapport with them so that they can trust us and come to us with anything, even problems at home,” he said.
“We’ve even made a few house calls to keep it away from the school environment and have had successes with them. Like Mr. Camarillo said, it all comes down to our staff’s relationships with our students and it has proven to work for us.”
Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward also commented about his officers always being available to Poteet ISD in the case of an emergency and how some of his units will be patrolling the school zones throughout the year.