Ector County ISD isn’t immune to officer shortage

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Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 10:02 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -Ector County ISD will be excused from house bill 3 that comes into effect next month.

Many school districts across Texas are struggling to hire armed officers for each campus, but ECISD still believe it could get done.

Even with the funding that they expect, they still have a common issue that local law enforcement agencies have.

That’s recruiting people to live and work in the Permian Basin.

“Law enforcement across the nation has seen a drop in qualified applicants. And we’re seeing that here in the Permian Basin as well. I don’t know of a police department around that is fully staffed.” said Jeff Daniels, Chief of Police at ECISD.

House bill 3 requires school districts in Texas to have at least one armed officer on each campus.

ECISD is currently short 30 officers to fulfill those requirements.

While they are in the process of hiring 2 officers, they still have a long road ahead of them.

“To work with the Sheriff’s department and other law enforcement officers, is to develop a healthy pipeline much as we have done for teachers. You know four years ago, we had an 18% teacher vacancy rate, and today we have a 1% rate. We need to do the same for our law enforcement.” said Dr. Scott Muri, ECISD Superintendent.

Dr. Muri said the cost to add the 30 officers is $4.5 million dollars, but they only received $680,000 from the state.

Which is one of the reasons they can’t hire these officers.

One way the ECISD police attract recruits however, is by using their work schedule as a way to bring in more officers.

“An interesting draw of our own that applicants seek out is the hours that the officers work here. We’re typically an 8-5 police department. And so not every department is like that. So that also helps us draw applicants in as well.” said Daniels.

Chief Daniels said officers that work for school districts could make a change in the community.

Dr. Muri said they ask for help from the Odessa Police Department, Ector County Sheriff’s and Texas DPS.

By volunteering to stay posted nearby schools that may not have a full time officer.