Education

Houston ISD police opens crime-reporting portal, expands gear inventory after Uvalde shooting

HISD and other area districts have faced a string of false threats this year, prompting lockdowns and early closures at some schools. 

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Law enforcement responded at an unfounded active shooter call at Heights High School on September 13, 2022.

Houston ISD's police department announced a new "evidence submission portal" on Tuesday where people can "report threats or criminal activity on HISD schools campuses."

"It’s just a tool that allows us to get a jump on investigating threats," HISD Police Chief Pedro Lopez said. "We hope this tool is going to allow us to investigate threats quicker than we normally have."

HISD and other area districts have faced a string of false threats this year, prompting lockdowns and early closures at some schools.

The new reporting tool — which was purchased before the Uvalde shooting, according to Lopez — came online a few months after the HISD Police Department expanded its gear inventory with a $2.3 million infusion from the district. The HISD school board approved the funds in August after a shooter killed 19 students and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

HISD superintendent Millard House II said in August that the district had studied the Uvalde shooting, and HISD police officers "would not have been prepared for what that looks like."

Since then, the department has ordered 150 "jersey claws" used to gain entry through doors and windows, 50 ballistic shields designed to protect users from rifles, an additional 100 less heavy shields, 100 "transport bags" for the shields, more than $1.2 million worth of electronics and software from Motorola Solutions, plus 57,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Altogether, the department spent more than $1.7 million on the new gear and software.

In August, some trustees questioned the necessity of the funds and spoke out against "militarization" of schools.

"More weaponry is not the answer," Elizabeth Santos said. "More guns have never made students safe. You can turn HISD into the military and still not prevent a single school shooting."

According to HISD Police Chief Lopez, the new reporting tool unveiled on Tuesday could help the department prevent violence on campus.

"It wasn’t related to Uvalde, but in a way it is because it gives us another tool to address incidents that could happen like Uvalde," he said.

The new portal requires personal information. To report anonymously, use the "See Something Say Something" tool — which was developed in response to the 2012 killing of 26 elementary students and staff members in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required