SIDNEY OH Jan 29 2017 — Seven Sidney City Schools’ (SCS) security officers were honored for their service during a recognition luncheon on Friday afternoon at SCS’s Board of Education Office.
SCS Superintendent John Scheu praised security officers Chuck Shepard, Doug Schagetter, Rick Cron, Rod Austin, Britton Morris, Anthony Cipollone and Mike Henry for their work and presented each with a certificate of appreciation. The officers are Shelby County Sheriff Deputies placed in SCS through the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Henry was unable to attend, but will receive his certificate later. SCS and Pizza Hut provided those in attendance with pizza, bread sticks, wings and salad.
“You school security officers are the heroes of this entire program that we have put together. … Of everything we have done in these past four years, the school security officers are the integral part — the glue that holds everything together,” Scheu said. “It is the most well received and most respected layer of that program we have, when we talk about the security measures of SCS.”
Scheu said they have received numerous testimonials from students, parents and grandparents of the officers’ good work. He said it is not just about protecting the students and staff, but also about the relationship building that can really pay dividends down the road.
“The relationship building that takes place with these officers and the kids at an early age; that’s immeasurable,” Scheu said.
He said Cipollone inspired a Sidney High School student to pursue a criminal justice degree in college. Calls were received about the delight of witnessing school security officers help zip-up a child’s coat, or sit and read, or walk across the street with various students.
Scheu said the luncheon was timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the infamous December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Connecticut, which was the event that inspired SCS’s increased security measures to be enacted.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, a group including Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, former Sidney City Police Chief Kevin Gessler, Scheu (and others) began discussing how to prepare SCS for the possibility of a similar tragedy. From those meetings, and then a public forum, came the current SCS security measures, which are:
• Biometric gun safes and handguns (only staff selected by SCS administration and trained by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office have access to the safe);
• Seven commissioned deputy reserve officers to work 178 days in uniform and armed as building aides, with duties assigned by principals;
• Panic button to police;
• Building blueprints secured in an easily accessible area for police use;
• Numbering all windows and doors for identification purposes;
• ALICE training for staff by Shelby County Sheriff’s Office;
• Surveillance cameras covering hallways/entrances to every school building;
• First Responder team in all seven buildings, consisting of trained volunteer educators. Twice annually all team members must be re-qualified;
• Substitute deputy officers provided whenever regular school security officers are absent.
He said the security program began at the start of the 2013-14 school year and since then they have received both state and national recognition for the measures put in place.
Scheu praised every officer’s work and emphasized his hope that each remains with SCS for many years to come.
He pointed out that Cipollone may have “the hardest job of all,” as he works as the resource officer within Sidney High School.
“I’ll be honest with you, when I was first asked to come to the school, it wasn’t something that I thought I would really want to do with my career, but now that I’m there, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. To have that relationship with the kids, and see them making better decisions, and just be a positive role-model for the kids really goes a long way,” Cipollone said. “It’s more than just being security at the school, it’s being about to help them with any situation.”
Cipollone said the opportunity to positively impact students is the good part of the job, but it is also the downside because he knows he can only do so much to help.
“You become attached. … and it can be negative as well because, there are these kids that I know things (are) going on that I can’t help. And, I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t keep me up at night sometimes worrying about them,” Cipollone said.
Since the West Liberty-Salem School shooting, Scheu said they have received calls from other school districts looking for guidance as a result of the time, planning and invested resources Sidney made to develop its security program.
“We want to be proactive. … Our focus, our priority, our resources have gone into how do we put out the threat with the quickest response possible,” Scheu said. As a result of these security measures, Scheu said they “feel they have the safest schools around.”
Sidney Daily News