With concerns for student safety heightened by the recent shooting death of 17 students in a Florida School, Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum has proposed a law enforcement presence at the four Hopkins County Schools that, as of Monday, did not have security on campus. One school, North Hopkins, immediately responded and accepted the plan.
Sheriff Tatum told KSST News Wednesday morning that he and the Sulphur Springs Police Department are offering to provide off-duty licensed peace officers to the schools, take all the liability, and provide training for the officers. The schools would in turn pay an hourly wage to those officers on duty. The officers would be trained for the specific assignments in schools. He stated this was not to provoke difficulties for students or the school but rather a safe-guard against any threat to student, staff, or administrative safety. He said the safety of Hopkins County youth is a high priority for his department. Currently, Detective Bo Fox with the Sulphur Springs Police Department is teaching the ALICE Program, a free kindergarten through12th grade program that helps students, teachers, parents, and community members be prepared through implementation of the school safety program.
Currently, Sulphur Springs, Como-Pickton, and Saltillo have a law enforcement presence. Now North Hopkins will have that presence. Three other schools, Cumby, Sulphur Bluff, and Miller Grove are considering the offer.
Along with Sheriff Tatum and Rusty Stillwagoner and Bo Fox, with the Sulphur Springs Police Department, County Judge Robert Newsom, Texas Ranger John Vance, members of the Sheriff’s administration and Brandi Leiber with Adopt a Cop were present for the presentation to the schools. Adopt a Cop is offering some funding for the program. Tatum said the primary concern is response time to the county schools should a threat be present. He said three minutes is too long.
Any one officer would not become a permanent fixture at any one of the schools. Officers would be changed out daily. Tatum said the officer would not be there to discipline a student but to provide safety to those attending a county public school.