Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner discussed the installation of a special unit to address school safety, as threats and school shootings become a common issue nationwide.
Since 2023 began, there have been 146 mass shootings, of which, 14 occurred in schools. The tragic Uvalde shooting is also coming up on its one-year anniversary, and Sheriff Skinner hopes to prevent more of these shootings, especially in his county.
In an interview with WFAA, Sheriff Skinner said schools and law enforcement should be more proactive than reactive.
"I can't be that sheriff who looks himself in the mirror after some child is injured or killed and ask myself, 'could I have done more?'" Sheriff Skinner said.
According to Skinner, in late March, he called all school districts for a closed-door meeting. During the meeting he made a proposal — he wants to install a Collin County watch center for school safety to allow for conversation about active threats and school lockdowns.
"They'll only work on school safety, 100% of their time on school safety," Sheriff Skinner said.
The special unit would be housed in the Fusion Center at the Collin County Sheriff's Office, where crime analysts work. Skinner predicts he will need 12 specially-qualified analysts working 24/7, on a 365-day basis. They would look for threats, warnings, behaviors, trends and where they've lately originated, both online and on social media.
But the Sheriff would need buy-in from private and public schools. The cost amounts to about $4 per child annually to build the unit. He feels any parent would pay to ensure their child’s safety, but he must convince school boards too.
"There's a way for us to intervene and head that off, but it takes resources. And in order to have those resources, it takes money," said Skinner.
Skinner hopes to have the unit in place by the next school year, but there is work to be done before it can be implemented.