The Winona ISD police department will take one of its final steps toward independence on Tuesday - connecting into the Smith County Sheriff’s Office dispatch system.

Smith County commissioners will consider providing emergency and nonemergency dispatch services for the department during its weekly meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Smith County Courthouse Annex building, 200 E. Ferguson St. in downtown Tyler.

Winona ISD has been working on bylaws to submit to the state to create its own police force after the city terminated its police department dbecause of budgetary reasons.

In September, commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and the district to allow the Smith County Fire Marshal’s office to temporarily carry the district’s resource officer’s peace officer certification while it worked to legally form its own police force.

In the meantime, Mike Pehl, the Winona ISD police chief and lone officer, has been compiling paperwork.

“This is the last step in our application process to present our application for the police department to the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement,” Pehl said.

Once submitted, the application takes a minimum of 30 days to be approved, he said.

“We are a done deal as far as the school board - they voted in the (policy) … to go ahead and develop the police department, but to totally develop it in the state you have to make application through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

“It’s a mound of paperwork, and once it goes to the commission they will send a representative out to make sure it’s as we have described it in the application packet.”

In the meantime, Pehl is working on building relationships with the students and looking at ways to make traffic at the school safer.

“It’s been interesting,” he said. “It’s a big change from street law enforcement. I have a 1,000 kids that I look after, and I’m enjoying it immensely.”

On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court will also consider a contract for prescription plan as part of its indigent healthcare system as well as an interlocal purchasing agreement with the city of Troup.

Commissioners will also consider approving the sheriff’s office to purchase two Ford Taurus cars.

Faith Harper will be in the meeting tweeting as it progresses. For updates as they happen follow @TMTFaith on Twitter.

Digital Content Manager

Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.

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