Union Local Schools Complete Security Team
The Union Local School District is going into the 2018-19 school year with new security personnel and equipment.
During a special meeting Thursday, the board unanimously approved hiring Kimberly Martin and Cyle Cole as resource officers for the upcoming school year. They will join Jason Greenwood, the district’s resource officer coordinator hired in May, in maintaining safety in the three school buildings. The superintendent said with one officer for each of the three buildings, this makes the security team complete.
Board Members Koel Davia, Dan Lucas, Billy Porter and Ed Stenger were present. Terry Puperi was absent.
Superintendent Ben Porter said Martin is a Union Local graduate from the mid 2000s and brings experience working with the National Guard military police, as well as working as a sheriff’s deputy.
Cole brings extensive experience in matters of security. He worked as a prison captain at the Belmont Correctional Institute from 1994 until his retirement in 2016.
He then worked at the Belmont County Jail until recently retiring from that site.
Porter said their respective military and law enforcement backgrounds and connection to the area made them stand out among the four applicants who applied. Their contracts are each for one year.
The positions are full-time for 180 days at a rate of about $22 per hour.
Cole was present and discussed his background.
“I’m very security-minded … I know buildings and large compounds such as this,” said Cole who also said he looks forward to adjusting to the differences between a campus and prison style complex, chiefly that in the prison he was focused on keeping inmates inside, while at the school district he will be concerned with keeping intruders and threats from entering. “I’m kind of uniquely adapted to this … I have a lot I can bring to the table.”
Originally from Canton, Cole has resided in the school district since 1994. He said his children are Union Local graduates. Cole has coached at Union Local and serves as a defensive line Varsity football coach for the district as well.
He said this provided the added opportunity to familiarize himself with the students, their friends and their issues.
“I’m really glad that at this point in my career that I can work with people that are not criminals for a change,” he said. “I’m used to working with the dregs of society.”
Cole said working with inmates has familiarized him with the signs of drug addiction.
“I’m capable of recognizing that, I believe, and hopefully I can intervene,” he said.
He also looks forward to further discussing security issues with Greenwood and Safety Director Mike Menges, and to work on such common problems as drugs and bullying.
Porter said the school board will pass a motion for Cole and Martin to carry a weapon on campus at a later meeting. The board has already passed a motion allowing Greenwood to be armed.
The district’s decision to hire resource officers came after the conclusion of Union Local’s prior contract with the Village of Bethesda to provide resource officers. Bethesda Village Council suspended Police Chief Eric Smith in the spring, and the Ohio Attorney General’s office began an investigation of him after he allegedly misused the computer system police officers use to share criminal justice data. Several Bethesda officers, including those who had served as resource officers, have since resigned.
Porter said the school district remains on good terms with Bethesda and also said the district is open to the possibility of resuming the contract at some point in the future.
“We would give the contract a break this year and then explore our options again next year,” he said. “We are partnering with Bethesda though. There’ll be a contract to provide security at some of our extracurricular activities. We will still be working with Bethesda, just not in a full-time capacity at the school this year.”
The board also approved the purchase of four metal detectors for the three school buildings for a total cost of $15,551.
They should be installed by the first of the school year. Lucas said the goal was to control access to the buildings, with everyone entering the buildings through a detector.
Porter said they will have the procedure ready before the start of the school year, so the morning influx of students will remain orderly.
“We plan on having a protocol down in place before the students come,” said Porter said who also said the detectors will be in the inner anteroom doors so that incoming students will not be waiting outside in inclement weather.
Porter said the instances of school shootings and violence across the nation have made these measures necessary.
“10, 15 years ago, you could have the doors open to the outside,” Porter said. “It’s just not the case anymore. There’s too much that happened already and we just want to be prepared, and do whatever’s possible to put prevention strategies in place.”