By Becky Holland, firstname.lastname@example.org
MARSHALL – In October 2014, Marshall Independent School District’s new police chief, Chad Wilhelm, fresh on the job, stood on the campus of Marshall High School, and reflected on what he felt would be a key factor in the success of a school police department.
“From my own experience, I have seen how trust between the citizens and police is important, and if you have that trust, then you can better serve the kids by understanding their home life,” Wilhelm had said.
Almost two years later, Wilhelm still believes strongly in that philosophy.
This is something that he stresses to his officers as well. “As officers with the school system, we are not only vested in providing safe environments, but we are invested in the students and their education,” Wilhelm said. “Not only do we need to work with the students, and teach them about negative and positive choices, we have to work with their parents – be a help to them as they are helping their children grow.”
Sometimes, though, school police officers do not find favor in the eyes of students or parents. “Most of the time,” Wilhelm said, “that is because we are doing our jobs and we are enforcing the rules of the district. This could include everything from investigations into behavior problems and making sure everyone abides by the rules and standards of the Marshall school district, including parents. If someone isn’t abiding by the rules and standards, and acts out, they will be asked to leave campus or dealt with accordingly in a dignified and respectful manner.”
One of the ways that Wilhelm and his officers do this is through security cameras. “We have an enhanced security camera system that allows us to see every nook and cranny that we need to see – this helps us monitor the daily activities in the schools, and even allows us to see what happens at events and activities after school,” Wilhelm said. “We already have officers in the schools and patrolling the events, but the advanced technology we have acquired allows us to have another ‘eye’ in ensuring safety.”
Wilhelm also makes sure that his officers stay up-to-date in training, including participating in active shooter trainings, attending classes and seminars on the latest trends and technology implementations that would assist a school police department in doing its job.
With advanced continuing education hours in law enforcement, gang resolution education, leadership training, Wilhelm, who is also a husband and father, received his education from Southwest Texas State, Texas State, Texas A&M – Commerce and Sam Houston State University. He also believes in the idea that he is not going to ask his officers to do something he wouldn’t do – including hours of continued training courses.
Wilhelm said that he would like to provide educational programs through the department. In the last year, his officers have been involved in assisting with the high school Crime Stoppers’ organization, and are looking into other programs – including drug awareness, bullying prevention and gang awareness – to provide for the students.
As always, though, the main goal for Wilhelm and the officers with the Marshall ISD Police Department is simple. “Our goal is to make sure that the MISD schools are safe, and that the kids stay in school.”