Goliad OKs armed officer in schools
By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 25, 2013 at 7:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:26 p.m.
GOLIAD - The Goliad school district now has a student resource officer who will be able to carry a weapon on campus.
The position was approved in a split decision Monday by the Goliad County Commissioners Court.
Christy Paulsgrove, superintendent of schools, said the district hired Paul San Miguel, a former Goliad County Sheriff's deputy, as a security officer in January, but he is not authorized to carry a weapon as a security officer.
To make it possible for him to carry a gun, Paulsgrove said the school would need to create its own police department - a costly process - or a sheriff, constable or police chief must commission San Miguel as a student resource officer.
"The tragedy in Connecticut has everyone on high alert that children were so callously killed," Paulsgrove said addressing the commissioners Monday.
She said the school district has also experienced multiple break-ins since May, losing more than $2,500 in damages and stolen items.
In addition to installing $25,000 in new security cameras, the district hired San Miguel to be a deterrence to illegal activity and to provide protection for students and staff, Paulsgrove said.
Even though the school board unanimously agreed to cover the expenses of the resource officer, including salary, retirement, insurance, uniform and training, members of the community and some commissioners were hesitant about adding the position.
Ted Long, Precinct 4 commissioner, voted against adding the position to this year's budget.
Once adding the position was approved, however, Long and Ron Bailey, Precinct 3 commissioner, voted against hiring San Miguel as the deputy constable and the resource officer.
To hire San Miguel, the commissioners had to approve an exception to a county policy stating that once an employee resigns from a position, he or she has to wait a year before they can be rehired by the county. San Miguel left his position with the Goliad County Sheriff's Office in October.
Pat Calhoun, of Goliad, said the court should have waited until the next budget session to avoid adding a line item to the budget and circumventing policies already in place.
"We are violating our own protocols, creating two governing entities for this position, and it is not for an emergency. ... I think it is very remote that something would have happened that we couldn't wait until the end of the budget year and have done this correctly," Calhoun said.
Robert De La Garza, school board member and former sheriff who is suing Goliad County Sheriff Kirby Brumby for being denied the resource officer position in 2009, said the commissioners' decision Monday was a step in the right direction.
"I know there is a lawsuit pending, but that is water under the bridge. I have three children who go to that school, and my wife is a school district employee. My main objective is to get security up at that school as soon as possible," De La Garza said.
Additionally, since the county would be the employer of the school resource officer, it could be held liable in a lawsuit even though the school district is fronting the salary and other costs, said County Judge David Bowman.
However, Bowman said as the only law enforcement agency in the county, Goliad County has an obligation to help the school.
"I think the county needs to cooperate with the school system. I expressed my discomfort at making an exception, but occasionally I think there are valid reasons to make exceptions, and in my opinion, this is one of them," Bowman said.
San Miguel, who is already a reserve deputy under Constable Michael De La Garza, was approved Monday as a deputy constable.
Michael De La Garza, brother of the former sheriff, said he will complete the required paperwork soon to approve San Miguel as the resource officer, allowing him to carry a weapon on campus.
"We aren't stopping here. We agree we need more law enforcement, so we will be looking at other avenues and possibly more funds to come back and do something further," Paulsgrove said.