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Westmoreland

Norwin considers resource officer to increase school safety

Joe Napsha
| Friday, May 18, 2018, 5:33 p.m.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.

A resource officer or municipal police officer could be on duty patrolling Norwin schools starting in the fall.

On Monday, the school board is expected to authorize district administrators to find money — through the budget or grants — to pay for a school security officer.

The district is considering hiring an officer based on cost effectiveness and specific job responsibilities for safety, education and training, said Superintendent William Kerr.

While money is available through the Safe Schools grant program, Kerr said Norwin has opted to use that money this year to update its camera and security system and increase the number of cameras at its facilities.

“We will be studying the cost-effectiveness of partnering with the North Huntingdon police or going the route of hiring our own resource officer,” Kerr said.

Norwin might be able to save money hiring its own school resource officer, but the district would be responsible for the safety training.

Any officer hired would have to establish a good relationship with the students, faculty and staff, Kerr said.

“We want the person to be very approachable,” Kerr said.

Norwin has seven school buildings, including four elementary schools, that are spread across several miles in North Huntingdon.

Having one officer in the schools “would be a start,” said Robert Perkins, school board president.

School safety became more of a top priority nationwide following the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school in which 17 people died. On Friday, 10 people died and another 10 were injured in a shooting at a Texas high school.

Since February, around 60 threats have been made against schools, students or teachers in southwest Pennsylvania. At least 14 juveniles across the region, ages 12 to 17, face terroristic threats charges in connection with investigations into those cases.

If Norwin hires an officer, it would join Franklin Regional and Hempfield Area, both of which have officers in the school district. In Jeannette, the school district and city police reached an agreement in 2015 to have a full-time resource officer stationed at the schools.

At Greensburg Salem, district officials are considering adding $100,000 to the 2018-19 budget to hire resource officers.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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