APD Chief explains why officers aren't stationed at elementary school campuses

AISD and Abilene police review school lockdown procedure

ABILENE, Texas - In light of the Thursday lock down at Jane Long Elementary school, KTXS learned only a few Abilene campuses have school resource officers permanently stationed on campus. Elementary schools are not included.

According to Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge, there are eight resource officers. There is one officer stationed at each of the three high schools – including Wylie High School -- and the rest are stationed at Abilene Independent School District middle schools.

After the lockdown was lifted, concerned Jane Long parents questioned AISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Burns about the lack of school resource officers at elementary schools.

"We have police that are assigned that rotate through, we have not had an incident that's warranted having a full-time elementary police officer," Burns told parents. "It is worth a conversation, you make a great point."

KTXS reached out to Standridge about the concern Friday.

"I don't ever foresee a time where we have a school resource officer at every elementary campus," Standridge said. "Case in point, if this had happened at a daycare center, would we advocate that an officer be at every daycare center in Abilene? If this had happened at the mall, would we be advocating that we have officers permanently assigned at the mall? So before long, you realize that this is a fiscal responsibility. We simply can't put officers everywhere. We would love to have them, but the truth is, we're constrained by many factors."

Standridge said those factors do not only include money and more about utilizing resources appropriately.

"Our school resource officers do a tremendous amount of investigating," Standridge said. "That's why they're assigned at the middle schools and the high schools. Crimes do occur on those campuses. Those school resource officers investigate all of those crimes. There would be much less need at an elementary campus."

Standridge did estimate that the cost for just one qualified officer to function as a resource officer would total approximately $100,000. That estimate includes salary, benefits, a patrol vehicle and all other necessary equipment.  He said security upgrades included in the November bond election for AISD should help address parents' concerns.

Given current resources, Standridge said the lockdown at Jane Long was handled correctly. The man who allegedly triggered the lockdown, 37-year-old Elkins Davis, was taken into custody quickly.

Police were called to the elementary school around 8 a.m. Thursday after a 911 caller reported a man fitting Elkins' description was on campus with a gun in his waistband. As police investigated, they said they learned Davis had a confrontation with his wife about their child and said he would pick the child up from the elementary school; however, when the child was not at the school when he went. According to police, Davis allegedly sent a threatening text message to his wife afterward.

Abilene police responded to the 911 call quickly to secure the campus. No injuries were reported and police said they only found a BB gun at Davis' home; however, they do not believe he displayed any firearms on campus.

As of Friday, Davis remains in the Taylor County Jail with bond set at $60,000 for class A misdemeanors terroristic threat (family violence) and evading arrest.

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