Port Arthur Independent School District adding security features; new chief ready to serve

Published 12:20 am Saturday, January 27, 2024

Officials with Port Arthur Independent School District are constantly working on ways to keep students and staff safe as they adhere to state mandates and prepare for different scenarios.

This includes the repair and replacement of security cameras at five campuses in the amount of $34,149.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie said this purchase helps replace equipment in need of upgrade.

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Another recent safety related purchase was silent panic alert buttons to meet safety requirements at each campus location. Trustees approved the purchase from Enfocus Security Inc. in the amount of $28,800, according to information from the district.

Porterie said the buttons have already been installed.

PAISD Police Chief Howard Sylve, who officially took over the lead of the district’s police department, said the buttons, when hit, would send an alert to law enforcement, who would then respond to the campus that sent the alert.

Since this is a safety and security issue, Sylve is not saying how many panic buttons were installed, except to say there are multiple.

Sylve has spent more than 21 years in law enforcement and has taken on roles from patrol to investigations to chief. In addition, he spent 13 years in the U.S. Army and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

To say his background is keeping others safe would be an understatement.

“My No. 1 goal is the safety of students, staff and anyone who visits our campuses,” Sylve said.

Sylve spent just more than three years with Prairie View A&M University as a police sergeant, where he met the campus police chief, Zena Stephens.

Stephens went on to be elected sheriff of Jefferson County.

Sylve followed Stephens to Jefferson County and spent three years with the sheriff’s Office. His career then led him to Wiley College, where he was director of public safety and chief of police. He spent his time building the department up.

He then worked as a chief deputy constable with Jefferson County Precinct 1 before working as a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the third largest in the state and third largest in the nation, he said.

The Louisiana native who has lived most of his life in Houston officially became PAISD chief of police Sept. 1.

Porterie said Sylve is a wonderful addition to the staff.

“Chief Sylve and his staff has brought several new ideas and are making positive decisions to extend the safety of staff and students,” Porterie said. “It is great to have fresh eyes on our district.”

Currently the PAISD PD has 10 members, including Sylve, but there are plans to add more officers to comply with a new law requiring school boards to determine the number of armed security officers for each district campus to ensure at least one armed security officer is present during the regular school hours at each campus.

Sylve said he would like to have 25 total officers in the department in the future.