ISD South West Police push for integrated active shooter training for agencies responding to emergency calls

VON ORMY, Texas — Police officers in the Southwest Independent School District received more active training on range drills this summer as they prepare for a new school year.

On Tuesday, a group of Southwest ISD police officers cleared the halls of Southwest Legacy High School in Von Ormy.

The school is currently empty, but the training is part of their ongoing active-fire drills the officers practiced with Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputies, San Antonio police officers and Texas DPS troopers.

“The main objective of alert training is to ensure that officers understand and know what to do in these types of events. So we want to engage that in muscle memory,” ISD Southwest Police Chief Rick Palomo said.

Palomo said the district has always been proactive when it comes to safety. It has 20 officers responsible for the security of 20 schools and more than 13,000 students.

The chief said there was much more urgency to making sure officers knew what was expected in light of the recent tragedy at Uvalde.

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“They understand that the community and trust us to look after their child, and they take that very seriously. And they understand that training is only one aspect of safety not just for students, but also for staff,” he said.

Palomo said additional layers of physical security have been added to school campuses. He also calls for an integrated training exercise involving agencies called upon to assist his district in an emergency.

Palomo said officers are trained to recognize adverse childhood experiences, or ACE, trauma. He said the district takes a pragmatic approach to social media threats or concerns.

“If a child publishes [on social media], and we get wind of it, we’re going to knock on your door to make sure you’re okay. And if we have to, we’ll take them to the hospital, get them treated,” Palomo said.

Palomo is meeting with state officials from the region this week to discuss some suggestions that he says could help make a difference. Recommendations include calling on all districts in the state to use the same standard response protocol, integrated training between law enforcement agencies in the region who would respond to a school district, and more resources to mental health.

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“We want to make sure that all of our officers, whether you’re an authorized county officer or a state officer, know exactly what your role is in how you’re going to respond to these types of events,” says Paloma.

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