Staff, trustees and members of the law enforcement community gathered Tuesday morning in North Hopkins Independent School District cafeteria to officially welcome Kelly Wiser as the new police chief for the school district.
“This is a very special occasion, the official inauguration of North Hopkins police department,” said NHISD Superintendent Darin Jolly.
Dr. Jolly said while school district staff members do everything they can to make the school safe and secure for students, having a trained law enforcement officer on the campus has been an added deterrent and comfort.
The superintendent thanked Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum for seeing a need for county school district to have officers and putting in place a plan to allow off-duty deputies to provide security at county school district the last 2 years.
Tatum said he was glad to see Wiser at the school full time, and said if he calls for assistance, his deputies and officers from Sulphur Springs as well as Department of Public Safety officers would respond.
“We are here to help in any way you need. We’re there for you,” Tatum vowed.
He said after events at other schools, he saw a need for more law enforcement presence at county schools.
Because of how far from Sulphur Springs they are, the response time for an officer to arrive, unless patrolling nearby would be a lot longer that desired if a situation occurred. Allowing off-duty deputies to serve as security officers at the school was one way to help address that, to put a trained officer on campus.
A few different deputies have taken turns sharing those duties at NHISD as they were available during the school year. One of those officers regularly providing security at the school has been Deputy Kelly Wiser, who like others has a personal interest in the community and school. Some officers have children or grandchildren who attend, or family who are employed at the school.
“It’s so fantastic getting to know so many officers. Our relationship has been fantastic with peace officers, ” Jolly said.
He said having the officers on campus daily, interacting with students has encouraged students to “up their game,” and to strive to be and do better.
Seeing the benefit of having one full-time police officer on campus, NHISD Board of Trustees took steps in the spring to begin the process of having their own school police department. They selected Wiser to head up their department as chief.
Wiser is a peace officer for about 10 years, six of which have been as the DARE officer. He also has served as a canine handler.
Wiser offered thanks to Tatum for giving him the opportunity and encouraging his officers to attempt to better themselves. He thanked the officers and others present at the Aug. 13 event and those in the community for believing in him and supporting him.
Secondary Principal Brian Lowe, who Jolly noted had prior experience as a peace officer and has taken on quite a bit of the responsibility to improve safety and security at the school, is excited to have Wiser on board full time as police chief to “lead us in what is facing us safety and security at the campus level.”
Elementary Principal Kodi Wright said Wiser had already proved himself last year, and this summer hit the ground running in his new post as police chief. He assured her that while she may put in hours long after the school day has ended, she won’t be the last to leave. he -She said will continue to work with Wiser as the district takes steps to continue beefing up security at the elementary campus she will continue to work. She said she’s excited to be able to take any concerns she may have to Wiser.
Assistant Principal Tim Henderson also expressed excitement in having Wiser on campus full-time. He said they have already been working together on some things, and Wiser will also lighten some of his duties. Overseeing fire drills and lock-down drills, and having him available to take care of any difficult situation that might arise, including things like parents who interrupt sporing events to argue with coaches, umpires or referees should a parent become difficult.
Jolly thanked the NHISD Board of Trustees for having their back, not only by agreeing to Wiser and a campus police, but other safety and security measures as well.