Austin Police Department brings officers to defend campus

Donna Kim, Print Staff

For Officers Gregorio Guilbe and Christopher Mendoza, safety and security are their top priorities while being stationed at Bowie campus. 

Recently however, many students have been noticing an increase of Austin Police Department presence on campus, whom students easily mistake the School Resource Officers (SROs) for. While the SRO officers Guilbe and Mendoza do work for the AISD Police Department and Austin Police Department (APD), officers that are dispatched to Bowie are separate  APD entities. 

Whenever there are incidents at Bowie, such as pipe leaks and gas leaks, APD  officers are dispatched to Bowie to investigate the situation, and make sure there are no safety issues that would affect the health of faculty and students. The SROs tend to work alongside the APD whenever incidents like these emerge. 

“AISD Police Department works closely with APD in numerous ways. Some examples included traffic control and enforcement around AISD schools, vehicle accidents, providing resources for individuals in crisis, campus familiarization and layouts, community outreach, and response to critical incidents at AISD properties,” Mendoza said. 

Assistant principal Paulette Walls explains how the SROs stationed at Bowie are different from APD officers that are dispatched to Bowie for certain situations. 

“As assistant principal I do work directly with [Officers Guilbe and Mendoza] on situational things. Austin Police Department is totally something separate, you’re generally not going to see them both unless it warrants that. If there was an accident outside campus, you might see Austin Police Department officers, and you might see the SRO campus officers respond, but they are both two totally separate entities,” Walls said. “One takes care of things outside of school, while our SROs on campus are fully licensed, certified officers, so they manage everything on campus.”

Regarding students’ notice of an increased presence of APD officers on Bowie campus, Walls explains how it might have to do with security checks around campus.

“We are required by the Texas Education Agency to do security checks of the campus, and so in those checks, [APD officers] check the doors and make sure the perimeters and spaces are secure,” Walls said. “Outside of that, if we’ve had situations that occur related to safety and security for students individually needing help and support, we will outsource out to the police.”

Guilbe explains how a notice of increased presence by students of the APD may have to do with the recent uprisings of school shootings, and especially because of the recent shooting at Uvalde.

“I haven’t observed much APD presence that I’m aware of but do recall that after the Uvalde incident, APD and Travis County Sheriff’s office were going to be making random check-ins at various campuses to provide more security,” Guilbe said. “AISD PD does assist other agencies with traffic accidents, search and rescue, and community outreach.”

Despite Bowie having many resources and connections to the Austin Police Department regarding health/safety issues, the SROs on campus have a large responsibility to help make students feel safe. 

“As an SRO at Bowie High School, my main objective is to maintain a safe environment for students, staff and visitors while providing any resources available when requested or in need,” Mendoza said.

The Bowie SROs have many responsibilities to ensure that students and faculty members are safe during school hours. To ensure security on campus, there are many protocols that Mendoza and Guilbe must follow while patrolling Bowie. 

“Some of our day to day responsibilities are foot and vehicle patrol of the property, monitoring surveillance cameras throughout the day, presentations/community engagements at schools, investigate offenses/threats to the campus, enforce state/local laws, provide mental health resources to anyone in crisis, work closely with administration/ counselors, and maintaining a positive role to our students, staff and Bowie parents,” Mendoza said.   

For pipe or gas leaks, the SROs follow certain safety protocols to ensure the safety of everyone on campus. The SROs have connections with other safety departments as well. 

“For pipe leaks, we would get in contact with Head Maintenance and maybe the city. If there is a gas leak, we get in contact with Austin Fire Department (AFD) but we would also follow our protocols,” Guilbe said. 

While maintaining safety and security on campus, the SROs also make sure to bring positive interactions to students and staff members. They make sure to bring about a positive environment for students during school hours. 

“I really enjoy working at Bowie. We have a really involved staff, parents, students, and community,” Mendoza said. “I love to interact with students at school during passing periods and lunch breaks. If you ever see us around, come give us a first bump and chat.”