Starting in January, the York City School District will have its own police department.

The district's school board made it official Wednesday with a vote to create new job descriptions and name three security guards as police officers. The board also named Michael Muldrow, head of district security, as the new department's police chief.

The department will begin its work as a law-enforcement agency on Jan. 2, Superintendent Eric Holmes said.

Holmes said the creation of a police force will provide better security for the district.

"We're excited about the possibilities," he said.

Holmes said the officers, some of whom have served in police roles before, will undergo training over the next few weeks to become certified in the types of tools they will carry.

"No one will be carrying equipment until they are trained to use that equipment," Holmes said.

That equipment includes pepper spray and Tasers -- or "electronic incapacitation" devices, as the job descriptions refer to them.

In response to some anxiety over the prospect of officers carrying weapons in schools, Holmes has assured the community the goal is to protect children from outside threats -- not to make enforcement of school rules a police matter.

The district will maintain the services of two school resource officers, York City Police officers who patrol school grounds during the academic year.

Among the officers' duties listed in the approved job descriptions are enforcement of the district's discipline and attendance policies, enforcement of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code summary violations, enforcement of all misdemeanor and felony violations and the ability to physically restrain combative individuals.

As the police chief, Muldrow will be required to be on call at all times for emergency situations, according to his job description.

-- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.