EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – A group of retired El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) officers and current officers say the district’s police force is understaffed and unprepared. Meanwhile, EPISD says the allegations are unfounded.
One retired officer, choosing to remain anonymous, says he worked for the district for over 20 years, now speaking out against the current state of the police force.
“I still have a son who goes to an EPISD school and I didn’t leave like a disgruntled employee and I worry about the students,” said the retired officer.
This former officer along with other retirees and current officers are a part of the El Paso ISD Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #150 which sent a letter to the EPISD board of trustees. That letter saying the group took a majority vote resulting “no confidence” in the current EPISD Police Chief Manuel Chavira.
In that letter the group stated that the EPISD police force only have 13 to 18 officers for over 80 schools in the district and that 20 officers have left since the Chief Chavira started. In addition the letter from the police lodge adds that there are only two K9’s in the district.
“EPISD Police Department, they don’t have enough staffing, most of our experienced officers retired,” said the retired officer.
Another retired officer, Phillip Deal, told KTSM 9 News he also worked for the EPISD PD for over 20 years and recently retired also saying he is concerned.
“The community at large needs to understand that we’re not going to take a back seat when our youth are put in jeopardy because of lack of training,” said Phillip Deal a Retired EPISD officer.
Deal saying former and current officers have filed formal complaints.
“There’s former and current at least 17 officers that have filed a grievance that has not been addressed by this current administration,” said Deal. “There are still some current that I know fear retaliation bringing this forward.”
We reached out to EPISD about what the former and current officers were saying. In the district’s statement it does not confirm the staffing numbers written in the letter from the EPISD Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #150. Read the full statement below.
“The unfounded allegations and remarks made by this group, which is not an official association recognized by EPISD or by the Fraternal Order of Police, come at a time when the District’s time and resources should be focused on assessing and strengthening emergency response plans. The District is disappointed that this issue has once again surfaced, especially during a time when officers charged with securing students at schools should be united.
EPISD is not alone in facing shortages in staffing. In fact, police forces throughout the city and the state have reported larger-than-normal number of vacancies and are facing difficulties finding candidates to hire. Still, EPISD has maintained a proper coverage of all campuses and their response to incidents has not been impacted. EPISD Police continue to collaborate with neighboring law enforcement agencies to provide safety and security services to the students and staff of the District.
Additionally, the complaints brought forth by a small group of EPISD Police Services employees who continue to challenge the credentials of the Chief of Police have been vetted and proven null by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and other state and federal agencies, who confirm Chief Chavira is properly qualified and credentialed to hold the position.”El Paso Independent School District
The President of the EPISD Board of Trustees, Al Velarde also sending KTSM 9 News a statement in regards to the concerns raised about Chief Chavira.
As board President and retired El Paso Police Officer, I have full confidence in Chief Chavira’s leadership capacity to lead EPISD PD’s efforts to provide safety and security for all students, staff and persons at all of our campuses and facilities. I understand the leadership needs of a law enforcement agency and Chief Chavira certainly possess the qualities of a law enforcement Chief to accomplish the mission of the EPISD Police Dept.Al Velarde, President of the EPISD Board of Trustee’s
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