Community Engagement Division
The Austin ISD Police Department recognizes that one of the most critical components of effective law enforcement is the establishment and maintenance of public trust. Our Community Engagement Division was created to further the Department’s goal in building and maintaining lasting meaningful relationships with the students, staff, parents, and community stakeholders we serve on a daily basis.
We also strive to add time and resources back where they count—the classroom. Education is the ultimate mitigator of risks, so we enjoy getting the opportunity to provide educational presentations to our students and communities as well. Below, you will find a description of many of our community engagement events, along with some resources addressing the risks associated with various threats and hazards, including bullying, gangs and drug abuse.
Pink Patch Project
We are excited to announce that we have joined the Pink Patch Project, an innovative public awareness campaign designed to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and to support breast cancer research organizations in combating this devastating disease. Austin ISD Police Department officers will be authorized to wear the Department’s pink patch on-duty from October 1st through October 31st each year. During that time, and only during that time while supplies last, our pink patch will be made available for “purchase” by donating to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas, a local non-profit organization offering programs and services free of charge to anyone affected by breast cancer regardless of income, ethnicity, education, sexual orientation, or social support.
You can learn more about each organization by visiting https://www.pinkpatchproject.com and https://www.bcrc.org
If you are interested in one of our pink patches, which are only available during the month of October while supplies last, visit our profile at Austin ISD Police Pink Patch Project.
Operation Blue Santa
The Austin ISD Police Department annually participates in Austin Police Operation Blue Santa, which is a non-profit organization that provides toys and food for families in need during the holiday season since 1972. Officers with our Department aim to get the support and goodwill of Austin residents, businesses, and civic groups through toy and food donations that ultimately support over 6,000 families each year. Donation boxes are set up at Police Headquarters, and SROs can set up donation boxes on their campuses as well.
One of the biggest events supporting Operation Blue Santa is the annual Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade. Our officers will decorate and submit a float for the parade, and march along with other first responder, city, state, and community organizations in one of the largest parades in Austin/Travis County. People and businesses along the parade route have the opportunity to donate unused toys, all of which go directly to Operation Blue Santa.
On Delivery Day, police officers and volunteers from around Austin will personally deliver these gifts directly to sponsored families.
For more information, to learn how to become a volunteer, or apply for assistance for your family, visit Operation Blue Santa.
Coffee with a Cop
The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to break down the barriers between police officers and the citizens they serve. The Austin ISD Police Department understands that part of building trust involves opening lines of meaningful communication. We know you have questions, and we want to give you answers. These events allow officers, parents, and staff to meet in a casual setting to share concerns while enjoying a hot cup of joe!
Officers with our Department frequently set up these events at our campuses in cooperation with administration and parent support specialists. When an event is scheduled at a campus, officers that serve that campus’ vertical team (elementary, middle, and high schools) attend. We encourage any parents from that same vertical team to attend as well. Frequently, the Chief of Police and/or Command Staff will attend as well.
To schedule a Coffee with a Cop event at your child’s school, please reach out to the respective campus administrator or parent support specialist, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traffic Safety and Education Division
In September 2020, The Austin ISD Police Department created the Traffic Safety and Education Division to promote traffic safety awareness so every student and parent can feel safe traveling to and from school. The Division will be comprised of officers who dedicate their time to promote pedestrian, bicycle, and driving safety. The Department secured a 34-foot trailer through generous donations from State Farm and Physician’s Premier Emergency Room that will be used to haul the equipment and supplies used for these safety presentations and events.
The program was designed to accomplish the following:
- Increased visibility of officers in school zones and along bus routes
- Decreased traffic infractions in school zones
- Educate the community to promote and increase the proper installation of child safety seats
- Pedestrian Safety Education
- Bicycle Safety Education
- Child Safety Seat Installation
- Prevention of children, elderly, and pets left in hot cars
- Increase teen driving safety, including:
- Reduce Distracted Driving (including texting and driving)
- Reduce Impaired Driving
- Seat belt Safety
- Formation of AISD Traffic Safety Committee
- Host and organize multiple Traffic Safety Events in the 2020 calendar year on high school campuses
- Community building for AISD PD on campuses
- Educational activities by State Farm agents and representatives and other community vendors
- Formation of Traffic Safety Unit
- Media Campaign to promote traffic safety events and increase awareness of AISD PD traffic safety program
The Traffic Safety and Education Division also plans to partner with Texas Department of Transportation Educational programs to provide an even more broad spectrum of safety topics to as many students as possible.
Feast For All
In the spirit of continuing to give back to the community we serve, the Austin ISD Police Department launched its annual Feast for All program in November 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope was to provide as many families as possible with the essentials to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and in turn, provide a sense of normalcy and bring smiles back to the faces of those who didn’t think it would be possible as the holiday season approached. Feast for All became an annual event to help feed those who are hungry, and show kindness and support to those who are feeling the pain of poverty and misfortune in our community. The Austin ISD Police Department hands out bags to volunteers from all over the District that contain a shopping list of essential Thanksgiving items like stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, cornbread, gravy and brownie mix, and includes a $20 gift card to HEB for a turkey. The volunteers fill the bags full of these items, and then drop them off to the Department to be distributed.
The Austin ISD Police Department then works with support services to identify Austin ISD families in need. Once a list is compiled, our officers come in on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and personally deliver the bags full of Thanksgiving trimmings to the families. This is one of our newest traditions, and certainly one of our most proud!
For more information about how you can participate, reach out to our Community Engagement Division!
Trunk or Treat
We know that Halloween is one of our students’ most favorite times of the year, so the Austin ISD Police Department wants to give students a safe place to celebrate it! Plus, it gives our officers an opportunity to dress up in something other than their police uniforms! Our first Trunk or Treat was in October 2019, and was a huge success. Our Police Officers and Support Staff decorated the trunks of their police cars and personal vehicles with Halloween themes, dressed in a costume, and then welcomed a parade of students and their families dressed in their spooky best as they walked by for a handful of treats. We have a DJ providing music, food, games and prizes, and visits by local first responders like the Austin Police Department’s Mounted Patrol and Air Support Units.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Each year since 2018, the Austin ISD Police Department partners with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National prescription Drug Take Back Day to help prevent unused and unneeded prescription drugs from falling into the hands of our students and community members. The drug overdose epidemic in the United States is a clear and present public health, public safety, and national security concern. We align with the DEA’s commitment to not the safety and health of our Austinites, by encouraging the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addition from ever starting.
For more information about the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit: https://www.dea.gov/takebackday
The 411 for Safety Resources
Austin ISD's Police Department is dedicated to the healthy development of students and employees. We strive to add time and resources back where they count—the classroom. Education is the ultimate mitigator of risks. Please take time to review each resource, which address the risks associated with various threats and hazards, including bullying, gangs and drug abuse.
Visit StopBullying.gov for information on how to keep yourself or kids you know safe from bullying.
Our goal is to keep schools safe and you can help us reach that goal. Campus Crime Stoppers allows students to be involved in promoting safety and security at school. Using Campus Crime Stoppers allows you to remain completely anonymous. We never ask for your name and every call is 100 percent confidential.
If you have a tip, please submit it online at Capital Area Crime Stoppers or call 512-472-TIPS (8477).
Visit our Austin ISD Cyber Safety page to learn more about internet safety and digital citizenship.
Did you know that 90 percent of Americans with a substance abuse problem started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18? Get the facts about drugs at abovetheinfluence.com.
Protecting Our Children
CenterForChildProtection.org is a great resource for information on how to recognize when child abuse is happening. The organization not only informs but also provides help for children who have made an outcry of abuse in the Travis County area.
This guide provides common warning signs of gang involvement but may not be all-encompassing. Families should look for multiple signs to indicate possible gang involvement because some of these indicators alone are also common among youth not involved in gangs. Families are encouraged to seek help early by contacting school personnel, local law enforcement, faith leaders and community organizations for assistance.
- Drug/alcohol use
- Unusually low grades in school
- Changes in friends
- Keeping late hours
- Having large sums of money or expensive items that cannot be explained
- Wearing predominantly one color over another, or refusing to wear a certain color
- Wearing or displaying folded bandanas
- Admitting to being in a gang or to having gang associates
- Drawing gang symbols
- Fascination with gang lifestyle
- Loss of interest in sports or family activities
- Unexplained physical injuries (fighting-related)
- New tattoos
- Carrying a weapon
Texas law is very specific in defining what constitutes evidence of gang membership. Section 61.02 of the code of criminal procedure provides a list of criteria to be considered in classifying someone as a gang member. If a person meets any two or more of the following criteria, he or she can be documented by law enforcement as a gang member (subject to change by the legislature).
- Self Admission The person admits gang membership. This can include photos or internet postings of the person portraying himself/herself as a gang member.
- Identification by Reliable Person The person is identified as a gang member by someone known to be reliable.
- Corroborated Identification by a Person of Unknown Reliability The person is identified as a gang member by a person whose reliability has not been established, but the identification is corroborated through other means, such as an officer’s observations, or other observed criteria.
- Evidence That the Person Frequents Known Gang Areas and Associates with Known Gang Members A “known gang area” can be a neighborhood, a school, a street corner or any other place where gang activity has been documented.
- Evidence That the Person Uses (in more than an incidental manner) Criminal Street Gang Dress, Hand Signals, Tattoos or Symbols This can include the use or display of bandanas, articles of clothing or accessories of a specific color, or that are worn in a certain manner. Symbols may include letters, numbers, words, marks or other forms of expression.
- Evidence That the Person has Been Arrested or Taken Into Custody with Known Gang Members for an Offense or Conduct Consistent with Gang Activity
- Evidence That the Person has Visited a Known Gang Member (other than an immediate family member) in a Penal Institution This includes jail, prison or juvenile detention.
- Evidence that the Person has Used Technology to Recruit or Solicit Gang Membership This can include use of the internet, email, text messages, etc.
Gang membership is illegal in public schools in Texas. The Texas Education Code (Section 37.121) classifies gang membership or gang activity in schools as a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine. There are also serious academic consequences for gang membership and activity in school, up to and including removal to an alternative education placement or expulsion, depending on the level of gang activity or membership. The law applies to both adults (17 and older) and juveniles (those under 17 years of age).
- Spend quality time with your child.
- Talk to your child.
- Participate in your child’s school activities.
- Know your child’s friends and their families.
- Know what music and television shows your child likes to watch and listen to.
- Teach your child how to deal with peer pressure.
- Encourage your child to get involved with positive activities such as sports, after-school programs, volunteer work or job training.
- Discuss the consequences of being in a gang or hanging out with gang members.
- Make sure your child knows that you will not tolerate gang involvement.
- Be a good role model.
If you suspect your child is involved in gang activity or you would like information concerning the Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit, please contact us at 512-414-7328 or by email at email@example.com.
Listed below are common consequences experienced by youth involved in gangs. This is not a list of every consequence that might occur and does not mean that all youth involved in gangs will experience each of these consequences. If you have questions about consequences, please talk to a teacher, parent, local law enforcement, faith leader or other trusted adult.
Negative Consequences of Gang Membership
- Criminal record.
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
- Death/serious injury.
- Low grades/dropout/expulsion.
- Putting career opportunities at risk.
- Putting family in danger.
- Strained family relations.
Keys to Staying Gang-Free
- Spend quality time with your family or a trusted adult.
- Focus on school and get help with your classes if needed.
- Watch television shows and listen to music that have a positive message.
- Learn to deal with peer pressure and practice saying NO.
- Choose your friends wisely.
- Get involved with positive activities such as sports, after-school programs, volunteer work, or job training.
- Find positive role models.
If you would like information concerning the Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit, please contact us at 512-414-7328 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.