CPSO captain chosen to head school security

Published 9:14 am Friday, December 16, 2022

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Captain William “Bill” Sommers has been chosen to be the new director of security for the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

This is a new position that was developed by CPSB and CPSO as a response to the recent nationwide uptick in gun violence at schools. “As you’re all well aware, the security of our schools is a high priority nationwide, and of course, in the Calcasieu Parish school system,” said CPSB Superintendent Dr. Shannon LaFargue. “CPSB has always been proactive in ensuring that our students are in a safe educational environment.”

He continued by explaining the CPSB has made active efforts to stay focused on evolving school security with changing times. Since the beginning of 2022, 49 school shootings have been reported, with the most recent taking place at Cleveland High School in Portland, Ore. on Monday.

This is the highest amount of shootings reported in a single school year. “Recent tragedies increased the need to assess where we are, what we do and what we need to do regarding security measures and to continue that mindset of being proactive.”

He cited 20 years of data compiled and released by the Institute of Predictive Analytics and Criminal Justice. This research determines trends that indicate the similarities and triggers of school shooters.

Over 300 school shootings were analyzed. It was found that 96% of school shooters are male, and 63% of shooters are between the ages of 14 and 18. In addition, this data showed that in most cases, the assailant was in some way associated with the school in question.

“That prompts us to rethink how we think of security,” said LaFargue. He stated that an increase in physical security presence and updated security measures is a nationwide trend. One primary measure that is common is the creation of district security positions through cooperative endeavor agreements.

CPSO Chief Deputy Gary “Stitch” Gullory stated that this endeavor is a “win-win” situation. “This is a win for the Sheriff’s Office. This is a win for the School Board. This is a win for the students. This is a win for the teachers.”

Guillory is adamant that Sommers is the right man for the job. “When we started talking about this position, we wanted to find somebody that had the specific mindset, specific skills,” he said. “I can tell you when Bill Sommers name came up… there was not one negative word. Every word about Bill Sommers was positive… His integrity is off the charts. His professionalism is off the charts.”

The position is provided and filled by CPSO, and housed in CPSB’s main building.

The director’s role will be solely devoted to the security of CPSB schools, and he will be the primary point of contact regarding security issues for school administrations.

According to the official job description of director of security, in this role, Sommers will develop crisis response plans with school leaders, and ensure those plans are implemented. He will also work closely with school leaders to develop their understanding of security protocols and incident command structure.

As a liaison between CPSB and CPSO, Sommers will manage communication between the two entities to accomplish security goals, conduct school security updates, and regularly meet with CPSB leaders and administration, as well as CPSO SRO and School Safety Supervisors.

During critical incidents, he will be present with school leaders to assist in crisis management, and will serve as a liaison with iaw enforcement.

The cost of the position’s salary will be split evenly between CPSB and CPSO, with each providing $48,448.32 per year, totaling an annual salary of $96,896.64.

Sommers’ most recent experience comes from his time at the Office of Juvenile Justice. In September, 2020, he was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards as Deputy Secretary of OJJ. In this role, he oversaw all Juvenile Justice Operations for the state of Louisiana. These operations included Secure Care, Residential Care, Probation and Parole, Diversion, Programs and Budget.

He began working for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury in 1987, starting as a Juvenile Probation Officer.