Every three months, the Greater Anna, the Melissa Area, the Van Alstyne and Howe Chambers of Commerce come together and co-host a multi-chamber luncheon at the Hurricane Creek Golf Club. This quarterly luncheon was held on March 19.
Usually, the luncheon always has a guest speaker to present over community matters. This feast was no different. The presenter was Anna Independent School District’s Police Chief George White.
White is an Allen High School and University of Kansas alumnus. He has 20 years of experience in the law enforcement field, with 17 of those years at the Collin County Sheriff’s Department. White was the School Resource Officer in Anna from 2011 to 2016 and started the Anna ISD Police Department in October 2016.
He began the presentation by asking the guests a few questions. “How many in here have children?” A multitude of hands went into the air. “How many have grandchildren,” White asked the attendees. A few hands remained in the air.
Once he had the patrons’ attention, wondering why he posed those two specific questions, he went into his presentation. White was there to inform the residents about Anna ISD’s new Defender Program.
White said this topic has been heavily and hotly debated across the nation, he even had reservations at first. “When I first heard about arming teachers, I said to myself ‘nope, that’s my job,” White said.
Keeping the children safe is his first priority, so he decided to give the program a little thought - but not before digging for some information first. “I called Homeland Security to come and try to breach our schools to see where the issues might be.”
White said they could not breach the elementary school, the junior high took a bit, but it was able to be breached. The shocking part was the high school. The team breached it and was in the school for over 45 minutes before anybody noticed they did not belong.
Learning that made White kick the program into motion. “Now, a visitor has to push a button to even enter the building. Once they are in the building, they have to go to the office, where the staff will run the visitor’s identification.”
White said that the visitor will get a name badge, and the office will hold their identification until they sign back out of the school. The Anna Police Department and the Collin County Sheriff’s Office have access to each school’s camera so they can connect during any type of emergency.
The Defender Program is not merely allowing a teacher to walk around with a gun in a hip holster like the Wild West, White said. There is a complete process they must endure. The teacher first and foremost must have a license to carry permit.
The possible defender must pass various tests. There are multiple scenarios on an interactive simulator to see how the individual reacts under pressure. The simulator can read the person’s reactions and throw scenarios to push the person to see if they crack.
The teacher needs to pass all three steps to even be considered for the Defender Program. White said that once the teacher is in the program, that is not the ending of the training.
“The individual must endure extensive SWAT training. They will go to Ector Texas for three days of the training.”
The SWAT training forces the individual to ask themselves some serious questions that some people may not know the answer to. “Can you point the gun at a kid if he is putting others’ in danger?” White said some people drop at that point, because they could not.
White said there are protocols to follow even after the teacher passes all the tests and is allowed on the Defender Program. “They are not allowed to carry a charged weapon, ever.” This prevents a few scenarios, said White. If the teacher accidentally leaves it unattended, a student will not have access to a loaded weapon, and if there is a scuffle and the firearm falls to the ground, it will not give anybody else access to it.