Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Commission of Education in 2022 asking them to develop strategies for increasing the presence of trained law enforcement agents on school campuses across the state. Working alongside the Texas Education Agency, the commissioner developed an education code for employing school resource officers.
Employment of school resource officers
Local school boards can hire school resource officers independently or work with the local law enforcement agency to employ them. Once hired, they are expected to help everyone on campuses across the district stay safe and help protect property. They cannot hand out or oversee routine student discipline or administrative tasks. These paid professionals can be called school resource officers, peace officers or security personnel. Districts may also employ school marshals, whose only job is to prevent murder or serious bodily injuries from occurring on school campuses. Furthermore, districts can opt to allow instructors to carry handguns on school campuses, with each district able to implement requirements as long as the instructor holds an open carry permit.
Training of school resource officers
Entry-level school resource officers must complete a 20-hour training either in-person or online. The Texas School Safety Center provides these courses for free. School marshals must complete an 80-hour training conducted by a law enforcement academy and take a renewal course every two years.
Effects of law enforcement on school campuses
A study shows no significant impact of having police or school resource officers on school campuses. They did not find that students got in-school or out-of-school suspensions at a different rate or ended up breaking more criminal laws. Students did not report improved knowledge of school rules when a district implemented school resource officers or another form of police presence. After two years, students and staff did not feel more or less safe, regardless of the school board’s decision.
School boards in Texas can hire school security, but they must receive specialized training if they do. There is no evidence that employing them makes schools safer.