HOUSTON – A local architecture firm is leading a new initiative to bring together all of the local law enforcement leaders in the Greater Houston area to form the first-ever Texas School Safety & Security Council.
PBK, a Houston-based architecture firm that has built more than 100 schools in Texas, has created a coalition of local law enforcement leaders from as far as Dallas to join in conversation. On Wednesday, the leaders met at a local restaurant in West Houston.
"Today, we are bringing together 25 law enforcement professionals. Most of them are chiefs of police or are second in command," said Chief Alan Bragg, a former lieutenant with the Houston Independent School District Police Department and Cy-Fair Independent School District police department founder. "We're here to talk about what ideas can we have to make schools safer and to make sure kids are not afraid to go to school."
"When we're designing a school, we would love to know what the best practices are," said PBK CEO Dan Boggio.
Chiefs from Conroe, Pasadena, Santa Fe and even the Dallas Independent School District's police chief were among the highly esteemed school law enforcement leaders at the meeting. Guests also included members of the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Office, among others.
"I think it's really important -- especially in Texas right now, with the Santa Fe shooting, I think there needs to be a unity amongst us," Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller said.
The Texas School Safety & Security Council is a first-ever initiative, that PBK aims to develop as the go-to council for anyone in need of school safety and security expertise in Texas.
"It has to be current, and I think that's the best thing about this, and we have to keep looking at what's going on in the world," said Pasadena Police Chief Stewart Russell.
"Architectural design of the school and looking at security -- all of that fits together," said Conroe Police Chief William Harness.
At the meeting, chiefs shared their best security features at schools, including a secured vestibule and entryways, surveillance cameras, automatic lockdown systems and bullet-resistant glass. Others shared concerns over school design including schools with all-glass walls and isolating hallways.
"It's an exchange of information and an opportunity for us to share ideas and, hopefully, we come out of here with a good list of what we want to move forward with, " Bragg said.
PBK said its architects and designers will take the input into account. In addition, Boggio said, the company hopes that school districts and local leaders will hear the collective voices and create change in the community.
"We all have to talk. We all have to work together when a tragic incident occurs," Bragg said.