By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - It's still summer break, but Midland schools are trying to find new ways to keep kids safe this fall. District officials hope some new equipment and an upgraded facility will make a difference and push those campus crime numbers down.
"This is a big project," Ed Zachary, Assistant Director of Operations with the Midland Independent School District, said.
All the wires, boxes, and wet paint posters at the building on North Carizzo are a sign that the start of this coming school year won't be the same as the last for Midland school district officials.
"It's important for the district because it will help us better serve the needs of our children," Zachary said.
MISD began the renovations back in September, and in just a few short weeks it will house the technology department, campus police, and the Alternative Education Programs.
"It puts us in a closer proximity to those students who might for whatever reason got into a little bit of trouble at the school and might have difficulty adjusting in certain settings, so we'll be able to respond more quickly to some of those issues," Chief David Colburn with Midland ISD Police said.
Chief Colburn tells NewsWest 9, the updated police station has plenty of new gadgets.
"An events room that is more secure with cameras and alarm systems, we'll have a state of the art dispatch facility, it's just going to be a lot better set up with new equipment," Chief Colburn said.
But don't let the sound of all the high tech gear fool you - the school-wide crime numbers have actually been on the decline every year since 1997. Between last year and the year before there were about 550 fewer responses and the number of felonies dropped by 26.
"I think it's going to be very beneficial that we'll be in the same building," Chief Colburn said. "We'll be able to make a difference in the lives of some of these juveniles."
School officials say the drop started when they put officers on each campus. And this year they hope the new police station and communication systems will pull that number down even lower.
"In essence, you'll have four officers in a 4-5 block area that will be able to respond to any need that arises," Chief Colburn added.
"It's proven to be a wonderful opportunity to utilize this space that was already in posession of the school district," Zachary said.
The Operations Department tells NewsWest 9, they're not exactly sure of the final price tag, but right now they estimate around $400,000. Midland ISD has an open house planned in September to show off the new facility to parents and students.