Houston school police chief: Department is not equipped for active shooter response

Chief Pedro Lopez said his 200 officers need ballistic shields, rifles and ammunition in order to stop a school shooter

By Sarah Calams

HOUSTON — As a new school year approaches, police departments and school districts around the country are ensuring their students’ safety following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. In Houston, a school district police chief is sounding the alarm before school starts – saying his department is not adequately equipped to respond to an active shooter situation.

Houston Independent School District Police Chief Pedro Lopez told KHOU.com that his 200 HISD officers need ballistic shields, rifles and ammunition in order to stop a school shooter. They currently do not have this equipment, but Lopez said the agency is confident in its active shooter training.   

HISD Superintendent Millard House told the school board during a meeting that investment in the equipment must happen sooner rather than later.

“What I do know is if there was an active shooter in HISD, our police department is not prepared,” House said.

The HISD police department requested 200 rifles, 200 ballistic shields and rifle ammunition, which would cost the district more than $100,000. The school board is expected to vote on the proposal this week.  

Lopez said he plans to use the rifles and ballistic shields for training and, if his officers ever need to use them in an emergent situation, they would be adequately trained to do so.

“In order to be better prepared, to provide an adequate response, you need actual scenario-based training with live fire, with shields,” Lopez told Houston Public Media. “You need to learn how to maneuver those doors, how to overcome a breach in those doors. We don’t have the equipment in order to do that.”

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