Take a minute to consider the importance of every choice you make
Working with young people is one of the greatest experiences a police officer can have. Being on the campuses in Greenville ISD, we have the opportunity to build relationships with our students and help them choose the right paths during a critical time in their lives.
My philosophy is that we’re here to help them learn, and guide them in making good decisions, which will always be the most important part of the job. Once students make a really bad choice, like making a threat against a campus, everything changes. The investigation begins, suspects are interviewed, arrests occur, and the consequences become real. This can range from expulsion, suspension or spending the rest of their time as a student in GAEP (Tex. Educ. Code § 37.006, .007.). Depending on the circumstances, it can even mean jail time and steep fines.
I strive to get the lesson across before the bad choice occurs.
First, there is no thing as “just a joke” when it comes to making a terrorist threat against a campus or a public servant (any GISD employee). An impulsive decision like writing something on a bathroom wall can have lifelong consequences.
The consequences become more severe if the student brings a fake or real weapon on campus. If damage is done to school property, add criminal mischief to the offenses. Here is the specific information from the Texas Penal Code and Texas Education Code:
- Texas Penal Code 28.03 - Criminal Mischief (Misdemeanor)
- Texas Penal Code 22.07 - Terroristic Threat (Misdemeanor)
- Texas Education Code - Exhibitions, Use, or Threat of Exhibition or Use of Firearms (Felony).
Over the course of my career as a deputy sheriff and a city and school police officer, I’ve seen student’s lives altered by one really good decision, and I’ve seen lives altered by one really bad decision.
Parents, my advice is to talk to your child about the following points:
- Slow down and think – really think – before you do something that you know is wrong.
- Assume you will not get away with it.
- Talk to a trusted adult at home and/or on campus if something is on your mind. Believe me, all of us want to help. You can help us by putting us in the position where we have options. We have fewer – if any – options if you go through with something that is wrong.
Something else to think about is that anyone 17 or older is an adult, which means they would have a permanent record that can severely limit your opportunities in the future because it will come up on a background check.
Even for juveniles, if they are fingerprinted and have a juvenile record, yes, it’s sealed, but it is still there. If they apply for a job - for example, a job with a school district - the fact that you have a juvenile record can show up when your fingerprints are run.
Families, this is a talk worth having. In GISD, we believe in the wisdom of “If you see something, say something.” We have good people on our campuses - officers, administrators, counselors, teachers and others - who are there to support our students. Please get to know them, and join us in keeping our schools safe.
If you see me or any other officer on campus, take a minute to talk. Building a relationship with you is important to us.
Chief Oscar Serrato