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Socorro ISD police force is all in for student, school safety | #schoolsaftey

School safety remains of the utmost importance in the Socorro Independent School District. With a first-rate police department and dedicated officers who work and live in the district, SISD takes an all-in approach to sustain proactive safety and security measures.

“Several of our officers live in the community, have children in our schools. A couple of my kids graduated from Socorro ISD,” said SISD Police Chief George Johnson. “My hope is that the community we live in, that we work in, sees that we are involved in the community. We are concerned about our own personal community, which is the school district and the full community that encompasses our schools.”

The SISD police department is the third largest local law enforcement agency in the El Paso region, with more than 60 police officers. The department has formed strong partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, such as the El Paso Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department, and constantly works in conjunction with numerous other agencies, Johnson said.

The SISD police force fulfills its state requirements and more in its efforts to protect schools as it is equipped with specialty officers and units. The department has a fully trained SWAT team, an officer assigned to crisis negotiations, a traffic unit, a K-9 unit that is narcotics and weapons certified and a criminal investigation division. SISD detectives also are assigned to the El Paso Fusion Center, an all-crimes, all hazards tactical information and intelligence hub for the El Paso Police Department.

SISD Police Department Peace Officer Enrique Solorzano talks to students during transition time at Americas High School. (Courtesy of Socorro Independent School District)

A year before HB3 came into effect, which requires an armed officer at all schools, SISD Superintendent Nate Carman reorganized the police department to assign an officer to each of the district’s 51- campuses.

“Safety is paramount in SISD, as it is for any school system, so we are fortunate to have a full-fledged police department in Socorro ISD that provides outstanding safety and security for our students and staff,” Carman said. “Their presence is important across the district and our community appreciates the protection our officers provide.”

Cultivating relationships with students and the community remains a focus for Johnson as he noted sometimes there is a disconnect between the civilian population and police officers.

“We are trying to build bridges between the children and police officers, so they know we are not just law enforcement,” Johnson said. “We’re here to help them, to provide any kind of service we can for them, help them in times of need or just be their friends when they have nobody else to speak to.”

SISD Police Department Peace Officer Kymberly Rios is assigned to patrol Cactus Trails Elementary School. (Courtesy of Socorro Independent School District)

SISD Officer Kymberly Rios, mother of four children in the district, said she found the perfect job when she landed in SISD in August 2023. She said the position is one that is beneficial in helping her be a better person for her family and allows her an opportunity to have more time with her children, even seeing them occasionally when she is on duty.

“I am very passionate about this job. I think having kids in the district makes me even more passionate about it,” Rios said. “I don’t want to go to work thinking its work. I go to work thinking ‘Oh, it’s my second family’.”

Johnson and his team also have forged close connections with emergency operations management and mental, social, and emotional support. The department includes crisis intervention officers that are certified through Emergence Health Network.

Knowing their duties often go beyond basic law enforcement, Johnson said it is important for officers to give presentations at schools at all grade levels to form positive relationships with students and to be vigilant in training with students and staff to prepare for emergencies.

Sgt. Emilio Martinez, a retired El Paso Police Department officer, has worked in SISD for three years and has a son who attends Montwood Middle School. He said he enjoys serving the district and keeping his sights on the safety for all – campuses, children, adults, and visitors, as well.

“My thing is I go out there, meet the kids, meet the staff. You have to get to know your people, get to know the students. It’s all part of being part of the community,” Martinez said. “I’m not one to sit in my office … when you have spare time or events are going on in your school you have to go greet parents, visitors, talk to them and be open to all interactions with everybody.”

Learn more about how Team SISD is All In for Safety at www.sisd.net/allinforsafety.

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