BEAUMONT, Texas — The Beaumont Independent School District is taking a step to ensure the mental health of its students is a top priority.
On Wednesday, BISD announced four officers and a supervisor in its police department will take part in mental health training.
The BISD police department began in 2007 and this will be the first time officers will be certified to recognize certain behaviors in students that could be problematic.
"It's an honor," said BISD Sergeant Eugene Wilson. "I'm looking forward to it, it's exciting."
Sergeant Wilson has been serving BISD students for nearly two years.
At the end of the month, he will be equipped with have another Tool to ensure the safety of students.
"Everyone has a toolbox, it's what you put in that toolbox," said Wilson. "You may not use that tool but once in a lifetime, but that tool is valuable to have and I think going through this training is going to be a very valuable tool that I'm going to receive."
All five officers will learn to recognize signs in boys and girls that could possibly lead to harm for themselves and others according to BISD Police Chief Joseph Malbrough.
"We want to try to identify early on, prior to an incident or crisis occurring," said Chief Malbrough. "For example, if certain behaviorisms are continually being displayed, certain verbal threats are continually being spoken."
The week-long course will take place at Lamar Institute of Technology's Regional Police Academy, where the officers will then be certified upon completion.
The added education will supplement the responsibilities these officers already carry out.
Malbrough said "The training of course is going to be able to teach the officer certain signs, certain indicators, certain behaviorisms that an officer might be able to identify."
BISD contains nearly 20,000 students, making it the largest district in Southeast Texas.
Sergeant Wilson tells 12News, forming relationships with these students is key to knowing what's going on with them mentally.
"The biggest thing is interaction," said Wilson. "You know you get to know those kids and you get to notice when those kids are not acting the way they normally act."
Along with new training for these five officers, the BISD police department will also implement a Threat Assessment Team for the 2019-2020 school year.
The team will consist of Sergeant Wilson, an administrator, a counselor and a nurse to help identify any threat or concern the district may have.
Beaumont ISD announced four of its police officers will go through training to receive mental health certification, becoming the first mental health officers in the department.
The officers will be certified at Lamar Institute of Technology's Regional Police Academy.
Four Beaumont ISD police officers will undergo training to become mental health certified for the upcoming school year at Lamar Institute of Technology’s Regional Police Academy. The officers will be the first of their kind in this department.
“Having mental health officers will help us easily identify and understand the signs of addictions and mental illness and know the appropriate way to help students who are facing such illnesses,” said Chief Joseph Malbrough.
The District is always working to stay up-to-date with new skills in keeping students and staff safe said Malbrough.
“The governor is pushing for more involvement in the area of mental health in the light of recent shootings,” said Malbrough. “We want to make sure we are on the forefront of combatting this issue so we can accurately detect, identify and diffuse potential crisis situations before they occur.”
In addition, officers have received other emergency training with the Garth House, Child Protective Services and First Aid/CPR training with the Beaumont Fire Department.
Police officers are required to obtain 40 hours of continuing education every two years, but these trainings are additional and supplemental.
“We have an expectation that all of our officers will go through these courses to ensure everyone is adequately prepared to meet the demands of our district,” said Malbrough.“Knowing these skills are so vital to the safety of our students and being properly equipped with the tools needed in the event any of these situations arise can ultimately help save a life.”