Gerardo Arranaga serves as FISD senior officer

Detective Gerardo Arranaga, 43, more affectionately known to students in the Frenship Independent School District as “Mr. A,” has been with the FISD police for 11 years, and is the senior officer on the force, next to the chief. Arranaga works at the alternative school at Reese Educational Center, and specializes in crime prevention.

Before working at FISD, Arranaga worked in juvenile probation, and served in both the Army and the Marines.

How has the Frenship Police Force changed since you started there 11 years ago?

“We’ve grown; we’ve got six officers now. When I started, it was a lot more passive in the beginning. It was more of a reactionary presence. We acted when we were asked to act or when we needed to. We’re required to hire licensed officers… We’re hiring officers to come in with a purpose instead of just being a presence. We want officers to be innovative. We’re hiring officers who come in with ideas, they participate.”

How is being a school officer different than being a city police officer?

“That’s an interesting question. I hear from local police. We deal closely with police from the city and the county. I hear from them that they couldn’t do my job, that they find it too difficult to deal with kids. I feel like it requires a lot more understanding of what kids deal with these days. It requires a lot more understanding of how educators work. You become a lot more in tune with the needs of a family and their needs.”

What advantages do you have, compared with a city police officer?

“When it comes to actual police function, we are somewhat traditional in that area. We’re going to work in the same way a traditional officer would. Frenship’s very understanding of that. I think there are advantages when it comes to doing police work. We can talk to kids a little easier because they’re around us and they’re more comfortable around us. I find it easier. A lot of kids want to tell you things. But aside from the interviewing functions, it’s pretty much the same. There are laws that govern us.”

How can you help kids and families as a school police officer?

“One of the ways that we help is we’re not restricted to stay at a campus as a teacher probably would be. I can actually leave my office or leave the campus and reach out to their families or other entities that could help them. We’re not locked into a spot, and I think that really helps out with this job.”

Are there ways you can help that city police cannot?

“We are, because traditional law enforcement, you take a call and you leave. With us, we can sit down with them and take as long as we need to solve a problem. We have access to school counselors; we have access to outside agencies that can help. And sometimes people need that. They’ve got something going on at that moment that needs attention.”

Are you doing any teaching with these students?

“Over the years, I have been. Not necessarily an academic based program. We do a lot of instruction at the alternative campus. We teach three main topics: leadership, self-discipline and social skills.”

Do you have a degree to teach? What is your educational background?

“No, in fact that’s what I’m finishing up. To teach criminal justice as a police officer, we get a Career Technology Education teaching certificate … I have to attend classes for a year. They are running me through a teaching program, training me to be a teacher, and licensing me to be a teacher. I go to the Region Center here, where teachers typically go to get training and teacher development and stuff like that.”

You started out in the Army, and then later became a Marine. How long were you in each?

“I was in the Marine Corp four years active and four years in the reserves. I was in the Army National Guard for a little while.”

Do you have any hobbies?

“I like to read, I like to research what I’m doing. I think it’s important that I research the fields of law enforcement and education together. I like my quiet time when I get off work.”

Why does a school district need its own police force?

“It depends who you’re asking. My experience tells me you have a lot more diversity by having your own police department. When you contract with local agencies, you have a lot more limitations. They’re limited in where they can go, what they can do.”

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