With the fifth-largest school district in the nation, the Clark County School District (CCSD) covers 7,910 square miles and includes the metropolitan Las Vegas area, all outlying communities, and rural areas. The School District has more than 309,000 students located at 352 schools. Because of its size, it would have been difficult for the CCSD to employ a traditional school resource officer, as seen in other parts of the country. Instead, the District created its own police department, with the mission to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment, which is conducive to education. Officers from the Clark County School District Police Department (CCSDPD) are sworn police officers for the State of Nevada and have the authority to make arrests and issue traffic citations. The CCSDPD is composed of a workforce of 41 civilian and 161 sworn officers. The command staff is structured to consist of 16 sergeants, four lieutenants, two captains, and a chief of police. The CCSDPD is divided into eight police Area Commands with two police officers assigned to every high school and patrol officers assigned to patrol each command area, primed to respond to the needs of all District elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition, CCSDPD police officers patrol 24/7 covering all property and buildings belonging to the School District. The CCSDPD also has a Detective Bureau, a Training Bureau, and a Communications Bureau consisting of a Fingerprint Unit, a Records Unit, and a Dispatch Center composed of 24 civilian employees.
The Clark County School District Police was developed in the late 1960's as a branch of the Maintenance Department of the Clark County School District and has evolved into a fully empowered law enforcement agency comprised of dedicated police officers and support staff.
What would eventually become the Clark County School District Police Department began in 1967 when the need for someone to watch overnight activities at school sites became necessary. The nucleus of the present Department was comprised of security officers who monitored school property and activities from five in the evening until one in the morning. There is some speculation that prior to 1967 the School District had a tie to the Clark County Sheriff's Office, though the only evidence of that is a Sheriff's patch with a rocker that states: 'School Enforcement'.
In January of 1971, the Nevada State Legislature designated the Clark County School District security officers as peace officers; this gave them the authority of police officers. By 1976, the Department was comprised of one sergeant and four patrol officers. Eventually, the Department implemented the first officer training program, and in 1988, added 18 new officers.
In October 1989, the Nevada State Legislature authorized the District to operate a fully state-certified police force and the addition of a Director of School Police. All School District police officers are now required to receive Nevada Peace Officers' Standards & Training (POST) certification. The size of the Department grew from 22 officers to 68 officers, some of which were stationed at all metropolitan-area high schools and some junior high schools, while others were assigned to patrol duties.
Since 1989, all police applicants go through extensive pre-employment testing and background investigations. Prior to the creation of the SNLEA, officers attended the Nevada POST Academy in Carson City. Now all officers attend the Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy in Las Vegas for twenty weeks.
In 1999, the Clark County School District Police was again impacted by the legislature. The position of Supervisor of School Police was changed to Chief of School Police. The Chief reports directly to the Superintendent of Schools.
In 2000, Elliot Phelps was named as Chief of School Police. The Department roster listed one hundred twenty four sworn officers on the force.
In 2005, Hector R. Garcia was named as Chief of School Police. Chief Garcia then began a campaign to return the School Police to its roots of service, education and protection. The initiative was codenamed "The Roadmap to Excellence".
In February 2008, Clark County School District made an unprecedented decision to promote one of its own, Captain Filiberto Arroyo, to the rank of Chief of Police. Almost immediately Chief Arroyo began echoing a new mantra, "Back to Basics"; his goal, to deliver School Police back to its true mission of ensuring a safe, secure, and nurturing learning environment for the students and staff of Clark County. Chief Arroyo has firmly stated that "As a School Police Department we must continue to work hand-in-hand with school administration to become one. We must also continue to forge bonds with local police agencies to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our students at all times."Â? This philosophy is founded strongly on advocating the ideology that the presence of a CCSDPD officer promotes a sense of overwhelming confidence in our students, so that their environment is safe and conducive for learning.
With gang activity on the rise in the schools, the Division of Police Services expanded to employee one sergeant and four patrol officers.