Five simple ideas to make Devine schools safer, from a retired police officer

Hector Villarreal, of Devine, is a retired San Antonio Police Officer of 28 years. He specialized in crime prevention and hostage negotiation. Villarreal came by the office to make copies this week, and we picked his brain about some ideas that would help improve safety at our schools.
“Bullet proof entrances are not the only answer. People can always find a way to get in unless the school is built like a prison.. So you have to start from the inside out, instead of the outside in,” Villarreal said. “These are a few suggestions.”
1-”Have a camera at every entrance and a station where an officer or someone in communication with the officer is always monitoring the cameras so they can see everyone who comes in, and can address the situation immediately.
“I was an officer with SAPD for 28 years. I worked in Crime Prevention for 5 years, and in Hostage Negotiating for 12 years. I recently went back in and got my license to carry renewed.
“A shooter is not going to go check in at the office. So why spend millions on bullet proof entrances? Once a criminal is in–that glass doesn’t matter.
“Look at the little programs we have with 200 parents in the school. They have to check in and get a name tag, but if you are there to do the wrong thing, you are not going to check in.
2&3- “If you are going to install bullet proof glass, put that bullet proof glass on classrooms where the students are, and fortify the classroom doors so that somebody can’t just come in there and kick the doors in. Install metal doors that you can’t kick in with at least a 1 inch deadbolt with 2 1/2 inch screws on the strike plate where the deadbolt goes into the wall.
4- “Until you can replace all the doors with metal doors, at least get a door security bar for each classroom. It’s a bar that has a piece of rubber on the top that can be wedged up underneath the door knob and another piece of rubber that pushes against the floor to prevent anyone from opening it. You can get one of those for as little as $20 each….Have one of those bars mounted in every classroom next to the door so teachers can put it on if they need it.
5- “Schools need to have at least one human at every school who is armed and licensed and qualified to shoot back, and that person or someone in communication with that person should be monitoring the cameras that show every entrance at all times. I cannot think of anything that would be more effective than that.
“I myself as a retired officer would even be willing to donate my time to help provide extra security at our schools. I’ve got four grandkids in Devine schools, and I don’t mind donating my time to help. I’m sure other retired officers would be willing to do the same to protect their children and grandchildren.
“I am also all for the school marshal program, where qualified teachers can be licensed to carry as well. More people can cover a larger area. There should be at least one armed person at every campus, and as long as they are monitoring those cameras or have communication with the person who is monitoring the cameras it will be an excellent first line of defense.”
Editor’s Note: Devine ISD currently has four campuses, and one school resource officer.