Schools re-up deal that puts police in hallways

Last updated: June 23. 2014 8:39AM - 738 Views
By - news@theoberlinnews.com

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A $40,000 deal will keep Amherst police in our schools for 2014-2015.

Mayor David Taylor received a contract Thursday that puts officer Eric Layfield in the city’s five school buildings full-time for a second year.

This time around, taxpayers will have to kick in $2,000 more than in 2013-2014 due to raises in a new police contract. The costs are shared between the school system and city.

Ptl. Michael Taliano will serve as backup and other patrolmen are required to make check-ins as often as possible with teachers and students, police chief Joseph Kucirek said.

“There should be no perception that because (Layfield) is at one school, we’re not at another,” he said.

After a year with uniformed officers walking hallways, Kucirek said feedback from both educators and the community at large has been almost 100 percent positive.

Officers will start the school year before the first bell rings by training teachers on how to handle emergencies.

Instruction will include how to make situational decisions on whether to evacuate or go to lockdown in the event of a shooting or other severe threat, Kucirek said.

“Hopefully that will never happen, we’ll never need it. But it’s clear we have to be prepared,” he said.

Like nearly every other district in the nation, Amherst took a tough look at its security following the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary shootings. That meant installing metal doors at key points, giving staff portable radios with “man down” buttons to contact police, a new telephone system that connects every classroom, and tighter controls on entrace-ways.

“Students have to first feel safe if they’re going to learn,” said Steele High School principal Michael May.

He said Layfield’s presence in the building has not only made his school safer, but has helped ease fears and calm all who work and learn there.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or on Twitter at @EditorHawk.

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