Over the past couple of years, Alvarado ISD has increased its level of security on campuses in several ways, and one of the more obvious changes has been to go from one School Resource Officer three years ago to four this last year.
On Monday night during the AISD regular board of trustee meeting, the district went a step further by officially beginning its own police department by hiring its first police chief, Timothy Payovich.
The district first looked into creating its own police department in March when trustees approved a resolution to investigate the possibility.
AISD is the fourth district in Johnson County to create its own department. Keene ISD created its department in 2015, Joshua ISD created its department in January 2018 and Rio Vista ISD created its department in October.
Payovich comes to the district from University of North Texas Health Science Center where he has been serving as a lieutenant.
“This is a very exciting time for Alvarado ISD,” AISD Superintendent Kenneth Estes said. “Chief Payovich brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our district. He has great ideas on how to increase the safety and security for each of our campuses. He has a strong desire to build rapport with our students, educators, community, the Alvarado Police Department and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.”
The new chief is just as excited about coming on board as quickly as possible.
“I am truly excited about this opportunity and what the future holds,” Payovich said. “I’m already energized and ready to hit the ground running. My goal is for the Alvarado ISD Police Department to be part of the equation in making Alvarado ISD one of the most sought after school districts in the state of Texas.”
Payovich’s first responsibility will be filling out the department with three more officers. Initially, the biggest changes seen by the parents and community will be new vehicles with the spear insignia and new badges.
The roles of the new officers will not differ greatly from what the SROs are currently doing, as they will continue to patrol their designated campuses, provide security at after school events and provide safety and security lessons for some of the district’s youngest students.
“This will allow us some flexibility and additional opportunities to focus on the safety and security of our students and staff,” Estes said.
One of the driving forces behind creating an Alvarado ISD police department was cost. Over the last couple years, the school district has been responsible for 100 percent of the cost of the SROs. After looking at the cost of doing it in-house, the financial benefit to the district was hard to ignore.
“Once we really sat down and looked, this is going to benefit the district financially in the long run,” Estes said. “There will be some upfront costs with vehicles and uniforms, but those should be recouped within a couple years from the savings.”
The creation of the police department ends a nearly 20-year relationship between Alvarado ISD and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
“This by no means should be a reflection of our happiness with and appreciation of what the sheriff’s office has done for our students over the last 20 years,” Estes said. “They have always provided us with whatever we needed. We plan to continue to work closely with the sheriff’s office and the Alvarado Police Department as we provide the safest environment for our students and staff.”
At the end of the day, the police department’s primary responsibility will be about keeping students and staff safe, but Payovich hopes the impact made by himself and his officers will be one that lasts long after students’ schooling is done.
“I will hold myself and my officers to a standard of making a positive, significant and long-lasting impact on the students’ lives,” he said. “I know the school district has put a lot of faith in me, and I intend to build a what will be considered the gold standard for district police departments.”
Times-Review reporter Ashley Rose contributed to this story.