Boardman officials host 'school safety' community forum
As the country continues to see acts of violence occur in schools throughout the country, one local community is coming together to discuss the best ways to keep students safe.
School safety was the first topic to kick off Boardman's Community Dialogue, where they discussed ways to maintain safety in the Valley's local schools at Boardman United Methodist Church.
"Things that we keep addressing to try to make our school safer, how we can do a better job, not only as a police department but as a community," said Mike Sweeney, Sergeant with Boardman Township Police Department.
District Superintendent Tim Saxton and Officer Mike Sweeney based their safety discussion on people, policy, and products in the district.
"What a great chance to bring people into a different venue but also get a different community group, not just our school families, get some of the community families in here to talk about safety," Saxton told 21 News.
Sweeney told 21 News they're looking to put even more officers within the schools.
"So, we're hoping to get a few fresh faces coming onto the department and then possibly beefing up our school resource officer program as well," Sweeney said.
Saxton praised the department's quick response times, newer security measures, including night lock door barricades, and the positive relationship officers have with students.
"Not only is it a safety and security issue but it truly is building relationships with the staff, and with the students so they feel the relationship with us and feel the ability to reach out to us," Sweeney said.
The topic of arming teachers was brought up and Saxton said he believes "teachers are there to help and educate kids," and adding more officers to the schools would be the safest solution.
"There's no perfect plan," Saxton said. "You have to make sure it fits with your district, and you have to constantly revise it, adapt it, evaluate it, and make it grow."
Both Sweeney and Saxton emphasized communication is crucial, adding it's drastically important to say something of you see something, and parents should always talk with their children about safety in schools and making informed decisions.
"Security comes down to people," Saxton said. "Having people communicate, having people be aware. To me, that's the best security you can have."
"A lot of the devices and stuff you can use are an integral part, but I truly believe it's human relationships to help us get to where we need to be," Sweeney concluded.
The Community Dialogue will return on November 3 and February 9 to discuss other topics of interest with professionals in the area. The next forum will discuss mental health in teens. The forums are open to the public.