NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — In the wake of the Connecticut school tragedy, the New Castle Area School District has taken a no-nonsense approach when it comes to school safety and security.
The school district up until this week had a single school resource officer – a city policeman – assigned to the New Castle Junior/Senior High School.
Now, in an effort to make the district’s seven schools safer and give students and staff piece of mind, the administration and school board moved swiftly to beef up the police presence.
“The board authorized us to hire six additional resource officers, which will be city policemen, and they will be assigned to our elementary buildings, our three primary buildings, our pre-kindergarten downstairs and then our intermediate school,” said George Gabriel, the school superintendent.
The seven officers will be armed; they’ve already been trained and certified as police.
“Dec. 14 was a game changer and we have to concentrate more now on our younger kids, too,” added Gabriel.
At Wednesday night’s school board meeting, New Castle Police Chief Robert Salem said stationing a police officer in each school would amount to the first line of defense and they would be more effective than an untrained or unarmed security officer.
“We’re going to increase police patrols at all the events at the high school, at the middle schools including sporting events, plays,” said Chief Salem.
New Castle’s new security plan would also limit visitor access to schools.
“We’re going to crackdown a bit on the number of visitors that are coming into the building and we’re going to require parents to have appointments before they come in,” Gabriel said.
Lastly, having police officers stationed inside the schools would allow the officers to become familiar with the buildings layout in the event there is ever an emergency.