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North Hills

North Hills school board approves job descriptions for in-house police force personnel

Tony LaRussa
| Friday, June 8, 2018, 3:36 p.m.

The North Hills School Board has taken a major step in the development of an armed, in-house police force to patrol district schools by approving job descriptions for a chief to lead the department and the officers who will be hired.

The board voted 7-2 at its June 8 meeting to approve both job descriptions, which seek applicants with at least 10 years of experience as a police officer, certification in first aid and CPR and certification in the proficient use of weapons, according to copies of the documents.

School directors Arlene Bender and Kathy Reid voted against the measures.

“I will not be voting for anything that has to do with our police force,” Bender said. “I still not cannot understand, or accept that more guns in more peoples hands will make us any safer.”

Reid did not comment about why she dissented, but she previously has complained that the district has barrelled forward to create a police department while providing scant details about training requirements, job descriptions and policies to which they must adhere.

District officials characterized the May 10 vote to create the police department as a simple declaration of the need for police in schools and the starting point for developing a department. Officials also said they are concerned about telegraphing security plans by discussing details in public.

Superintendent Pat Mannarino set no specific deadline for when officers will be on the job, but said the goal is to have them in place when classes resume from summer break Aug. 21.

Both Bender and Reid echoed concerns raised by a number of parents who attended previous board meetings at which district officials were chided for providing too few details about the police force as well as objections to having armed officers in the buildings.

A number of parents who attended meetings at which the issue was discussed supported having armed officers in the buildings. A referendum vote taken by the union representing district teachers found that 92 percent supported the additional security measure. The police chiefs from Ross and West View also supported creation of the police department.

The district proposed creating the police force in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Plans call for stationing officers in each of the district's six buildings.

Unlike school resource officers who work for local municipal police departments under a shared-cost arrangement with a district, the police officers at North Hills will be nonunion district employees.

Mannarino has said it will be significantly more expensive to hire school resource officers supplied by local police departments.

According to the job descriptions, the police chief will report to the district's building principals and the superintendent; officers will report to the principals and the police chief.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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