Monessen football players, fans, to face tougher security following arrests of football players
MONESSEN - Fans attending Friday's football game at Memorial Stadium can expect security measures similar to those found in airports.
Monessen High School's football players, coaches and staff members are also facing tougher rules following the arrest last week of players accused of having guns and suspected drugs in their football lockers.
Since the arrest of the boys – ages 15, 16 and 17 – Monessen School District Superintendent Linda Marcolini has ordered new security measures at the stadium's field house – as well as at home football games.
Beginning with Friday's home game against Imani Christian, spectators will be screened by metal detectors and have their bags checked by officials. Metal detectors have been in use for some time.
“These are the measures we used at the home game against Clairton, and we are just going to continue doing that at all home games,”said Marcolini said. “The feedback we got (at the Clairton game) from people was that they were glad, because it's for everyone's safety.”
Marcolini said she wanted to implement “proactive measures” following the students' arrests. The boys - all starters on the football team - were charged Oct. 4 following the locker search.
Under the new guidelines, players will go through a metal detector monitored by the coaching staff before games and practices.
Once players clear the metal detectors, their bags will be checked by coaches.
Marcolini said she wants a coach to be the last one to leave the locker room, and to lock it. She said some coaches will be assigned to the field as students come down from the field house. Other coaches will remain in the locker room until all students are checked in. A staff member also will lock the stadium gates.
“All doors will be locked going into the field house while practice occurs. Players should be on time and doors will not be unlocked unless a coach checks the student and relocks the door,” the policy states.
The policy states that Midget League players and coaches will not be permitted in the upstairs locker room. They will only have access to the visitors locker room.
Monessen football coach Andy Pacak declined to comment on the new security measures.
Monessen police were alerted by Pacak last week with suspicions that players had brought illegal drugs into the locker room.
A random search turned up the suspected drugs and a loaded gun.
Police said they found suspected marijuana in the 15-year-old's locker. He is charged with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to deliver suspected marijuana. Monessen police said the locker also contained $395.
The 16-year-old's locker allegedly contained an unloaded 9 mm handgun. He was charged with possession of a firearm on school property and possession of a firearm by a minor.
The 17-year-old's locker allegedly contained suspected heroin and a loaded .22-caliber handgun. Police said the boy was charged with possession with intent to deliver suspected heroin, possession of a firearm by a minor, possession of a weapon on school property, and possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer number.
Monessen police Chief Mark Gibson said the teens are scheduled to undergo a detention hearing this week to determine whether they will remain in the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center in Hempfield Township or return to their homes pending a formal hearing. Gibson said he expects the cases will remain at the juvenile court level.
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.