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Top cops weigh in on Ringgold security

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 12:52 a.m.

Donora Police Superintendent Jim Brice painted the harsh reality of a potential school shooting.

“If someone is crazy, nothing is going to stop them,” Brice said. “The goal is to stop it once it begins.”

Brice and Carroll Township police Chief Paul Brand discussed school security with the Ringgold School Board during a committee meeting Wednesday night.

Brice said that in the event of a shooting, district security would have the task of protecting children until police arrive.

“Would I want to be that guy at the front door? No, because that's the first person they're going to go after,” Brice said of a possible shooter.

He said police from all over the region would respond. But the district's building plans should be provided to Washington County 911 now, so such information would be immediately available to the first officers responding to a crisis.

Brice noted that the shooter in Newtown, Conn., entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School through a back door.

Director Chuck Smith questioned the cost effectiveness of hiring a security chief, lobbying for “engineering controls” for buildings.

“How do you explain to those 21 parents that you're putting a price on their child?” Brice said.

Smith recommended hiring individual security officers for buildings rather than one security chief. The board last month voted to create the security chief position, but has yet to fill the slot.

The board agreed to reassign hall monitors at the high school to security positions, one working 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the other 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., because there are many after-school events in the building.

Tommy Thompson, district director of security, said local police have always cooperated with Ringgold.

Brand said his force is small and struggles with manpower at times.

“We've been there for you,” Brand said. “It's our duty to be there for you, for the public.”

Brand commended the district for its proactive response after the Newtown massacre. He said technology the district is using to secure its buildings is a sign Ringgold is “moving in the right direction.”

“As a parent, I felt good. As a law enforcement officer, you took a lot of the burden off of me,” Brand said.

Smith asked that chiefs from each police department in the district's seven municipalities meet to discuss security and report back to the board.

But board President Mariann Bulko said that dialogue is already occurring.

“We're going to work as a team,” Brand said. “We can't stand alone. We have to continue to work together, and we will.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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