Although Jeff McNair is familiar with the city of Riesel and law enforcement, he knows stepping into a new role as Riesel Independent School District’s first police officer will be an exciting transition.

“Every day is going to be different. … There is never a dull moment and it is never the same thing again,” McNair said. “Whatever comes your way at the drop of a hat, you have to deal with it.”

McNair, 46, has started as Riesel ISD’s first director of school safety, moving from a job as assistant chief for the Dallas County Marshal Service. His father grew up in Riesel and several of his family members live in Riesel, so his move to the city is a bit of a homecoming, he said.

“I have so many cousins here, I don’t think I can name them all,” McNair said. “My aunt is still here, so I’ve got a lot of family right here.”

The district is finalizing paperwork with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement that soon will officially make McNair the chief and sole officer of the 675-student district’s new police department, Superintendent Brandon Cope said.

“This will be a full-fledged new department, the first one that I’ve been a part of, but it is going very well and we look forward to a good experience,” Cope said.

The school district approved the development of the one-man police department last month, and about 12 certified peace officers applied to fill the new role.

McNair said he knew he would be up to the task of building a new department from the ground up. He had a variety of roles with the Allen Police Department between 1997 and 2011 and worked with the Dallas County Marshal Service from 2014 until he made the move to Riesel last month.

“Every place has its own challenges, but in Allen, I wrote policies and procedures, evaluated other ones that came due when I was working in internal affairs, and I’ve done K-9, SRO (school resource officer), patrol, CID (criminal investigations division), so I’ve done a lot, everything but community relations,” McNair said. “But I am really excited to get started and protect the safety of staff and students.”

In November, Riesel ISD and the city of Mart signed an agreement to allow the city to hire a new Mart police officer to serve as a school resource officer in Riesel schools. Mart, which saw all five of its police department’s officers resign last month, was unable to hire a candidate for the position, prompting Riesel ISD to look into other options. It is unclear why Mart was not able to hire an officer to serve as a Riesel ISD school resource officer.

Riesel’s board of trustees selected McNair to fill the role of director of school safety in anticipation of forming a one-man police department this summer.

“The first year, with everything, will cost about $90,000, but you can’t put a price on safety and our students,” Cope said. “It is a big number, but this is something we feel very passionate about and although Riesel is a safe community, this is one of those things we felt was in the best interest of our students and this was the direction we decided to go.”

The district is still writing policies and enforcement requirements for the new police department and still working on getting equipment for McNair. He will dispatch through McLennan County and will be on call 24 hours a day.

“I have an office in the administration building, but my real office is going to be my car,” McNair said. “I am going to spend a lot of time inside the schools, getting to know the kids and working on education with the students. I am excited to get to know the staff and students.”

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Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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