One thing was clear after the first meeting of Mayor Sara Drew's safety task force: School and public institution safety is a complex issue.
The 10 task force members gathered Thursday in front of a small audience in City Hall's Boards and Commissions room. Stow-Munroe Falls Superintendent Russ Jones was not present.
Before they got down to business, Drew asked audience members if anyone had suggestions.
Clinton resident Don Michael suggested each building have a covered walkway with metal detectors. He said if someone walks through the metal detector with a weapon, the walkway will close at both ends and the perpetrator will be locked in until police arrive.
Resident Kevin Clark suggested the district close a school building.
"We have 700 less children in our schools," Clark said. "We could close a building down and the cost saving there could go toward the new security measures."
A former school employee said there are surveillance cameras in the schools but no one is there to monitor them all hours of the day.
"It's human error," she said. "We could put the best security system in there but if the employees don't use it right then what happens?"
Task force member Dave Licate, an expert in Homeland Security, said the group needs to take an "all hazards approach."
"I have a stake in this because I have a daughter in the district," Licate said. "Physical building security needs to be explored and we need to look at the counselors in the district too so they can find those who may be at risk for doing something like this."
Stow Police Chief Lou Dirker said the group has to "harden the target."
"Some of these buildings are not set up for security and they'll have to be retrofitted," Dirker said. "We have ALICE training and solo-response training, but the biggest offenders are employees who don't follow the policy. But what do the citizens want?"
At the end of the meeting, the memberes created five informal task groups to make the issue easier to handle. The breakdown is as follows:
- Community Survey: Members include Sara Drew, Law Director Brian Reali and Councilman Brian D'Antonio.
- Tool Assessment/Training Issues: Members include Dave Licate and school board member Karen Wright
- Cooperation Between Entities/Agencies: Chief Lou Dirker, Munroe Falls Chief Rick Meyer and High School Principal Chris DiMauro
- Specific Security Measures: Chief Dirker, Chief Meyer, former Munroe Falls Chief Steve Stahl and Licate
- Financial: Drew, Finance Director John Baranek and Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson
The next meeting is at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7 in Council Chambers.