Parents in the Gadsden Independent School District insist school resource officers are necessary in schools, but does the sheriff’s office have the manpower?
“Nowadays, we know that it is not a luxury to have an officer present, but an ultimate, urgent need,” said parent Claudia Rodriguez, speaking before Doña Ana County commissioners in late August. “The active shooter incidents have increased in the country and the security of our children is a priority.”
The district does pay for private security, but a school spokesman said guards are not armed and do not have the power to arrest a potentially dangerous person on campus.
At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, parents and grandparents will ask Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart for school resource officers in all three high schools: Gadsden High School, Chaparral High School and Santa Teresa High School.
In August 2018, the sheriff’s office announced that county deputies would be going “back to school” after a ten-year hiatus to staffing shortages. However, that agreement was under a different administration, lead by Sheriff Kiki Vigil, who lost re-election.
“Last year was a priority that they did it,” said Commissioner Ramon Gonzalez, who represents district two. “I can’t see why they had to make a change now in regard to all this… what’s more important to me is my kids, my students in my schools.”
The commissioner told ABC-7 that under last year’s agreement, GISD paid 50 percent of the cost to staff a deputy at high schools. Gonzalez also said the district is offering to pay 100 percent of the cost this year.
Sheriff Kim Stewart told ABC-7 that when she entered office, there 40 vacant deputy positions. She said she doesn’t have the manpower to staff school resource officers in schools.
“I will not take personnel from patrol,” Sheriff Stewart told ABC-7. “That’s what my predecessor did. It depleted patrol to the point where we could barely provide services all over the county.”
There are school resource officers at all high schools and middle schools within Las Cruces city limits, according to a spokesman for the Las Cruces Police Department.
Stay tuned for ABC-7’s coverage of the meeting at 5 p.m.