Sheriff’s officers on call at Bremond football games
It is the responsibility of every school district in the state of Texas to keep kids safe. However, according to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) it is not required. Both agencies have left the decisions of how to provide school security for events up to the local school boards and in the hands of Superintendents.
Standard practice seems to be that a school district will hire off-duty law enforcement officers, security gaurds or constables to patrol and provide security for scheduled ISD events. Athletic events as well as many other types of gatherings; science fairs to band recitals often find off-duty police amoung the crowd.
School districts often pay on average of $25-$50 an hour for the added security and piece of mind that comes with event security. In some cases, in smaller rural, schools more often than not, this is the only security option for a school. Robertson County schools are no different and often employ Sheriff Deputies, Constables or local city law enforcement. But the service always comes with a price, roughly anywhere between $1,500 - $5,000 a year depending on which school in Robertson County you contact.
In Hearne, according to Superintendent Norris McDaniel, four officers are hired from Hearne Police Department at $20.00 an hour. The average game time is 3-4 hours, so roughly $320.00 for the game. Hearne ISD also contracts for an officer to work everyday at the Hearne ISD campuses. “It is a little bit of an an expense, but the safety of the kids is what is important,” said McDaniel.
In Mumford, according to Superintendent Pete Bienski, Mumford ISD employs Sheriff Deputies as well as Robertson County Constables for security. The cost is $25.00 an hour. While Bienski could not confirm annual expenses for these off-duty officers, he did mention that as long as he has been Superintendent no officers were ever supplied to the school free of charge by any law enforcement agencies.
In a recent Robertson County Budget Workshop, it was brought to public attention that one school in Robertson County was receiving free law enforcement security services from the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office, Bremond ISD.
According to the Robertson County Treasuer’s office and public records,two Robertson County Sheriff’s Officers were paid overtime during the 2012-2013 school year for working Bremond Football game nights. A total of 29.5 hours at a total cost to county taxpayers of $829.62. The officer’s time cards go as far as to say either “football Game”, or “Bremond Football.” Deputies from the Sheriff’s Department have been in attendance for the 2013-2014 football season and that fact has been confirmed by Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak.
The duties of the sheriff includes all of Robertson County and at any given time a sheriff can authorize overtime when deemed necessary. In other words, the Sheriff can authorize overtime to cover any event, from a bakesale to a football game if he feels there is a need for security at the event.
While these practices may not seem fair to the other schools in Robertson County, “We have been at the Bremond games as long as I can remember,” said Yezak, “There was a problem at the school a few years ago and Bremond has gone through a few superintendents in recent years,” said Yezak. Bremond patrons can expect these officers at these home games as the Sheriff did not indicate that he would stop sending officers to the Bremond home games. The Sheriff did not eloborate on what, if any, incident took place at Bremond ISD that would justify added security for home football games.
“We hire the Bremond Police Department for our games,” said Bremond ISD Superintendent Daryle Stuard now in his third year. According to Stuard Bremond ISD pays local law enforcement as much as $5,000 a year to work events at the schools including the home football games. “I was not aware the Sheriff’s officers were being paid until I heard it in open court,” Stuart continued. Sheriff Yezak backed up Stuart, “I have never spoken to the Supertintendent about our officers,” he said.
“Our officers are present at the games, but are also available for call duty as well. Last year the officer left two games for other calls,” said Yezak.
In April 1999, the United States experienced one of the deadlist mass killings in it’s history. Twelve students were killed at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado by classmates. The effect on the country changed the way security at schools is approached. With hightened awareness and attention, school districts, educators, parents and residents across the state and nation have all made student safety while attending school and school events a personal priority.
Dennis Phillips / Publisher