“Project Safe School” has been around for more than two decades. The alliance between the HPD, school district officers and local ministers was struck after a rash of fights and other violence on some campuses marred the last day of school.
The Reverend Kendall Baker helped form the Houston Police and Clergy Alliance.
“Every end of school year they say, ‘We’re gonna get you on the last day,’ and that brings terror to those innocent ones, but it brings excitement to those bullies. But by us being there, we hope to stop a lot of that.”
Incidents ranged from settling long-simmering feuds to gang recruitment.
“Just kids acting bad, you know. It’s just that those ones that act bad that still don’t listen to our voice and continue on — that’s when we have to alert the police and get somebody out there.”
When the final bell rings later this week, the Reverend Baker and hundreds of ministers will be on hand to make sure things remain calm, both inside schools and in neighborhoods around the participating campuses.
Robert Mock is assistant chief of the HISD Police Department. He credits the clergy for changing the environment.
“Officers on campus do a good job of mentoring and coaching, but they bring that personal experience in there. They know the families, and they see them on Sundays and special occasions. So, it brings that personal experience to the school, and it’s really beneficial.”
Project Safe Start has grown to more than 75 schools in the Houston, Spring Branch, North Forest, Alief, Pasadena and Ft Bend School Districts.