A dozen armed guards were on Rio Rancho Public Schools campuses Monday, according to an email sent to all parents on March 7.
Earlier this school year, the RRPS Board of Education approved a plan to introduce armed security officers into Rio Rancho schools. For the past several months, the district has been working on implementation of the detailed plan presented last fall to the school board and to the community including extensive and detailed training for the first 12 security officers who will be authorized to carry firearms on RRPS campuses.
That process has been completed, and the largest concentration of officers is on Clevelena dna drIo Rancho high school campuses, with other officers rotating onto elementary, middle and other high school campuses. Rio Rancho Police Department School Resource Officers (SROs), who are sworn members of the City of Rio Rancho police department detailed to school campuses, will continue to be present at our schools.
The RRPS armed security force, along with our unarmed security personnel, will serve under the direction of Executive Director of Safety and Security Sal Maniaci and Safety and Security Director Mike Padilla, former RRPD officers.
Armed members of the security team are select, specially trained retired law enforcement officers, retired correctional officers, or ex-military members who have volunteered for the program. They were required to pass medical and psychological screenings, pass a firearms competency test, complete other training courses and meet the same standards used by the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.
Armed security officers are only one component of a larger, more comprehensive school safety picture, which includes restricting campus access; ongoing installation of additional security features such as electronic door locks, improved fencing, security cameras and surveillance; support services and counseling for students in crisis; and maybe most importantly, nurturing a culture in schools where students and staff are willing to tell someone if they see or hear something that causes a concern for their safety.