One Valley school district is making sure parents are involved in school safety just as much as at law enforcement.
La Joya Independent School District parents were given the chance of a lifetime Thursday when they trained one-on-one with officers as part of the district’s Parent-Police Academy.
“It was a life-changing experience because I have never in my life handled a weapon and I feel much better now about having my kid in the classrooms,” said Rocio Olivarez, whose son attends a school within the district.
Following the rash of school shootings and threats happening around the country, La Joya ISD police opened up their active shooter training to parents in an effort to demonstrate their children are safe when on campus.
“It’s important that they understand what we do as a school police department,” said La Joya ISD Chief of Police Raul Gonzalez. “Obviously, right now the biggest concern that people have is school safety and what is it that we’re doing as a school.”
Parents learned about the active shooter protocol, getting answers on how officers decide when to shoot and where. They were also briefed on what goes on when a campus is put on lockdown due to border security threats or other dangerous situations.
“We practice this a lot, throughout spring break we’ll be training and practicing,” said Gonzalez. “We pray this never happens to us, but if it does ,we want to be prepared to respond.”
Parents got the chance to pull the trigger on assault rifles to get a taste of what officers go through when faced with deadly situations.
“It was a good experience because now I know what the police do and how hard it is,” said Petra Rodriguez, who has two children who attend Juarez- Lincoln High School.
Rodriguez fired an AR-15, which each La Joya ISD police officer has access to. It can fire 550 rounds per minute.
Chief Gonzalez says the weapons are used strictly to protect the people who make up the community of La Joya ISD.
“Here we have over 60 police officers,” said Gonzalez. “We’re ready to go. We do a lot of active shooter trainings. We’ve been training for the last 17 years and we will continue to train and do everything in our part to protect students and staff.”
The parent-police academy runs for eight weeks and meets weekly to discuss topics like gangs, mental health, bullying and other issues that happen in school.
Starting next month, the next round of parents can join a new class for the La Joya ISD Parent-Police Academy.