October 26, 2014

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More police are needed at Wadsworth Schools, parents say

WADSWORTH — Three parents of students urged Wadsworth City Council at its Tuesday meeting to consider adding more police presence in the city’s schools in the wake of the school shooting Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Mike Madachik, Dave Bartiromo and Katie Tiger said they support having armed officers inside the city schools all day, every day.

“In light of what happened in Connecticut, I just wanted to reach out and try to urge Council to take steps to make police more present at Wadsworth’s schools,” said Madachik, 31, of Wadsworth, who has a 7-year-old daughter attending Valleyview Elementary School.

Ward 1 Councilman Tim Eberling told the parents to take the matter up with the Public Safety Committee and invited them to attend the next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at City Hall.

Ward 3 Councilman John Sharkey said he supports their ideas.

“I think everyone feels the way you do,” Sharkey told the parents.

Safety Director Matt Hiscock said the decision isn’t just up to Council, though. If something is to be done, he said, it has to be in conjunction with the school board.

“This is an opportunity to be proactive,” Hiscock said. “We’re looking forward to working with the school board to try to find a way to make this happen.”

Hiscock said if police presence was increased, it would be in the form of a school liaison officer or school resource officer, who would work to identify security threats before they happen.

However, the decision needs to be the result of more conversation, he said. Acting quickly might end with an unqualified or inexperienced officer at the schools.

The parents were receptive to the officials’ comments.

“I just wanted to know what the next step is,” said Tiger, 29, of Wadsworth, who has a 7-year-old daughter attending Overlook Elementary School and two younger children. “I didn’t expect something to happen tonight.”

Tiger said she would support an armed officer in schools.

“I think that’s the only way to solve something like this.”

Bartiromo agreed.

“We need to be proactive and not reactive,” he said.

Bartiromo has a 9-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter attending Sacred Heart School.

Hiscock said he is interested in trying to get police at Sacred Heart, too, even though it is a private school.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.