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  1. #1
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Dallas School DISD police response team armed to the teeth

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/dallas/stories/091407dnmetswatteam.35833ff.ht ml

    Special Response Team ready for disasters, but some want more focus on basics


    12:18 AM CDT on Friday, September 14, 2007


    By KENT FISCHER / The Dallas Morning News
    kfischer@dallasnews.com

    Five years ago the Dallas Independent School District began arming its police officers with handguns. Select officers now have access to much more firepower – five assault-style rifles purchased for a new SWAT-like response team.

    DISD Police Chief John Blackburn formed the 16-member Special Response Team last summer to handle incidents such as a school shooting spree, a riot or a dangerous chemical spill. It is the first such unit created by a North Texas school system and at least the fifth in the state.

    The team's officers are training alongside Dallas police and through Homeland Security programs, Chief Blackburn said.

    Although DISD's new squad is receiving much of the same training given to municipal SWAT teams – including "active shooter training" – the district is not creating a SWAT team, Chief Blackburn said.

    "Why would we do that?" he said, given that Dallas police has a full SWAT unit.
    But the district has purchased equipment used by many tactical police squads, including body armor, riot shields and helmets, and five M-4 semiautomatic rifles that fire a .223-caliber bullet and carry a 30-round magazine.

    Altogether, the district has budgeted about $50,000 to outfit and train the Special Response Team.

    "Other districts are looking at it because in today's society, you need to be prepared – terrorism, intruders, gang activity," said Chuck Brawner, chief of police in the Spring Branch ISD in Houston, which formed its special response team in 1999 after the shootings in Columbine High School in Colorado.

    The creation of DISD's Special Response Team has raised questions, however, even among some of the district's own officers, who believe that the fledgling department isn't ready for it.

    One DISD officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested that the department should instead focus on law enforcement basics, like supplying officers with radar so they can enforce school zone speed limits. Currently, Dallas school police have no radar guns and rely on other agencies to nab speeders.

    Chief Blackburn said the district is in the process of buying radar equipment. He said the Special Response Team won't affect any of the department's current duties or responsibilities because officers will participate in the unit in addition to their other duties, which will remain unchanged.

    He called creating the team a "reasonable step" since the department is responsible for ensuring the safety of 200,000 students, staff and school visitors every day.
    "You are never trained and experienced until you are trained and experienced," he said. "The sooner, the better."

    Jeff Ward, president of the Texas Association of School District Police, said a big district like Dallas probably needs a Special Response Team given that it can take up to two hours for a city police SWAT team to arrive at the scene of an emergency.

    Chief Blackburn said DISD's Special Response Team would probably be the first unit to respond to an emergency and would secure the area until Dallas SWAT arrives. He said his officers are also learning how to handle other emergencies such as riots or large fights and crowd control.

    The Bushmaster semiautomatic rifles that the district purchased for $775 each are becoming common in many municipal and state police departments. Although the gun looks intimidating, it's actually a fairly small rifle, Chief Blackburn said.
    Nevertheless, he said the increased firepower is necessary in case school police encounter "a subject who is armored and carrying a long gun."

    "You are not going to want to deal with that individual with a pistol," he said. "We would be crazy not to be prepared for something like that."

    In addition, creating the unit has allowed the department to participate in the federally coordinated communications system used by emergency personnel during major disasters. That training, Chief Blackburn said, will improve communications between Dallas school police and local police departments.

    Chief Blackburn came to Dallas about a year ago from the Houston ISD, where he was chief of police and created a Special Response Team there.

    School police chiefs in Spring Branch and Houston said their Special Response Teams rarely get called out. The Spring Branch team has never been called to a school disturbance in its eight-year existence. Houston's unit has not been called out in the 10 months that the new police chief, Charles Wiley, has been on board.

    "You hope you never get the call, but if you do you've got to have a cadre of officers ready," Chief Wiley said. "It's like having a good insurance policy."
    He said skeptics are right to wonder why school districts need a Special Response Team when cities have SWAT and other specially trained units. The answer, he said, is because those officers don't know schools like district police do.

    "We know the details – where the alarms are, where the surveillance cameras are," Chief Wiley said. "City police are just not familiar with schools."

    READY FOR ANYTHING?

    Here are details about the DISD police force's new Special Response Team.

    THE TEAM
    • 16 officers were selected based on physical agility and experience.
    • They receive no extra pay. It's "collateral duty" ­ something they do on top of other job duties.
    • They're getting training in several areas, including: "active shooter" (taking out a gunman in the middle of a shooting spree); crowd and riot control; hazardous material spills; and terrorism response.

    EQUIPMENT PURCHASED
    • 3 ballistic shields ($1,020 each)
    • 15 pieces of body armor ($1,709 each)
    • 15 ballistic helmets ($290 each)
    • 15 tactical knee pads ($45 each)
    • 5 M-4 response rifles ($775 each)

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  2. #2
    Terminator's Avatar
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    FORUMS!

  3. #3
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    FORUMS!
    It was an article in the Dallas Morning News, so I figured the cat's already out of the bag...

    The school appears to finally be ready to deal with those little shits, don''t they? Too bad the school's tac team isn't allowed to just scare the shit outa them and shoot a pepper ball or two for lesser infractions like fighting in the hallway and criminal mischief

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