HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Harlingen City Commission’s recent decision to give the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District two years to develop its own police department has residents in disagreement about what is best for the safety of their children in schools.
The Harlingen City Commission was to discuss whether to continue a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides nine Harlingen police officers to help guard Harlingen CISD schools. However, the result turned out to be a recommendation that the school district develop its own police department in two years, something Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester says is necessary.
“The city has always provided police officers for the school district but at this time with recent events, we think it is imperative that the school district starts their own police department,” Kester said. “It will take a while and we will supplement as long as we need to.”
Currently, the school district pays the city for the Harlingen police officers. It has been a non-legal agreement between the two entities for 20 years, something Harlingen CISD Superintendent Alicia Noyola would like to continue seeing.
“Whenever we finalize our MOU’s it will always be our common goal,” Noyola said. “So, that part is not a concern for me because that long-standing partnership has always been about what we do jointly to keep our children safe.”
Harlingen CISD issued the following statement on the matter.
“Harlingen CISD is in the process of reviewing the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Harlingen as it relates to the school resource officer program,” the statement reads. “The document, released to HCISD on Thursday evening, will be reviewed by school district attorneys. After making appropriate amendments to the MOU, our mutually agreed upon MOU will focus on ensuring the safest learning environment for HCISD students and staff.”
When it comes to keeping students safe in school, opinions seem to differ among some Harlingen residents.
Harlingen South High School graduate Olivia Vega said she thinks the security agreement between the city and the school district should remain in place.
“I believe that the city should be responsible for that,” Vega said. “The school has so many other things that we have to handle like Harlingen South, they have so many, you know, extracurriculars, and we have security guards. I remember them helping, you know, and then the cops too, but I think that the city should be the one to handle that.”
Mary Lou Ayala, a Harlingen resident, said the school district should create its own police department.
“I’m all for it,” Lou Ayala said. “We do need police protection for the kids and everybody the teachers, everybody, everybody.”
The Harlingen City Commission stated in a press release the creation of a school district police department is a natural evolution of the city’s ongoing efforts to keep school children safe.