ANNA -- The Anna Independent School District creating its own police department.
Anna ISD is joining other smaller districts across North Texas by creating its own autonomous police force this fall. Superintendent Pete Slaughter chose former Collin County Sheriffs Deputy George White as the department's new chief.
"We've known him for years and feel he will be an excellent fit," Slaughter said.
While larger districts, like Dallas ISD, have had their own department for years, Anna is joining in an effort to build an even stronger relationship between law enforcement officers and young people in the community.
"I want our officers here from K-through-12, so they know our students and feel comfortable coming to us," White said.
Another aim of the department is to keep students in the classroom and out of the criminal system. While White's officers will be able to make arrests or issue tickets like any other department, he says his team will be trained to de-escalate situations.
"Well, the top priority is safety. But we also want to talk to students when that's what they need,” White said. “Sometimes they just need someone to talk to, and we want them to know police officers can be that person.”
The district says it's in the process of applying for licenses with the county and state. Superintendent Slaughter anticipates they'll have everything approved by the end of this fall.
"We've had this in the works for months," Slaughter said.
The force will employ two officers in addition to White to oversee a student population around 3,000. But as the community grows, so is the vision for the department.
White says he plans on having an officer for every school in the next few years.