ECISD Police Have Rifle Power Ready In Case of Emergency

ECISD Police Have Rifle Power Ready In Case of Emergency

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - It was a bold move in response to a small streak of mass shootings in recent years across the nation. Now, the Ector County Independent School District is prepared to deal with major threats with powerful weapons of their own.

"You're not used to school cops carrying around a big gun like an M-16, usually you see that on games," Odessa High Junior, Austin Renteria, said.

But in the event that there's a real life "Call of Duty," campus police is prepared.

According to Officer Jeff Daniels with ECISD, this is a measure to keep up with a national standard for police officers who respond to active shooter situations.

Daniels said the district applied to a program through the U.S. Department of  Defense in 2009 to receive the high power weapons. A couple years later, the federal government approved and supplied them with the maximum five M-16s. (The number of rifles allotted corresponds to the number of officers.) The resources came at no cost to the district or to taxpayers.

Daniels says many local agencies have reaped the benefits of the program since then but schools have been a little slow to catch on.

"I don't know when the other districts came online. But being one of only ten school districts, we're very proactive," Daniels said.

Currently, two of the rifles are issued to officers on OPD's SWAT team, one is with an officer covering West Odessa and the other two are secured in a vault.

For those with safety concerns, Daniels said they're only deployed in the worst situation possible.

"This isn't a daily tool that they use. It's not taken out for any reason other than worst case scenario," he said.

But he added that everyone with the high-power guns is trained to operate them.

"I think it'd be a little intimidating but I think it would set [kids] straight. I think that's what these kids need now is a little bit of intimidation from authority," Jason Gomez, who's a parent of a student in the district, said.

Renteria said he understands where people would be worried but he'd feel more protected. At the very least, it would give the authorities a chance to contain the situation safely for them.

"It's better than a little handgun," he said.

Of the 28 officers, a majority of them are now stocked with their own rifles. We're told many of them paid out of pocket to get them.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to keep them safe and going out there to find all of the resources that are available to us to do that," Daniels said.