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Allegheny

Fox Chapel Area hires 3 officers for school police force

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
Fox Chapel Area School Board hired three new police officers that will patrol elementary buildings.
Fox Chapel Area School Board hired three new police officers that will patrol elementary buildings.

Fox Chapel Area School Board last week hired three officers to round out the district’s newly-formed police force and add a security presence at the elementary schools.

The new officers are Scott Bailey, Dennis Lynch and Eric Valentine. The board is expected to hire a fourth officer in coming months to add to the two who currently patrol the high school and middle school.

Pay rate for the new hires is $49,920.

The hirings are pending court approval, which is mandated by the state.

The school police force comes as part of an improved push for security at each of the district’s six campuses. New Safety and Security Coordinator Joe Kozarian outlined several moves the district has taken or is considering, including construction of a vestibule entrance at Hartwood Elementary, a digital safety app for staff and the Raptor system to screen visitors.

Kozarian said school-based police are necessary to prevent disasters. The district has had school resource officers for years at the high school and Dorseyville Middle School, but Kozarian said there should be an officer dedicated to each of the six buildings. He said there is a priority to improve access control at each school, which could include secured entries, security keys, magnetic locks and separate vestibules.

Bonnie Berzonski, district coordinator of communications, said some of the new officers were expected to begin this week. Others will start as soon as possible, she said.

Bailey currently works part-time in Aspinwall and also at Robert Morris University; Lynch works for Freeport and the Freeport Area School District;

Valentine works for the Gateway School District.

“It has not yet been decided where they will be specifically assigned, but it will be in the elementary schools,” Berzonski said.

Officers likely will rotate through the buildings initially to become acquainted with all the facilities and the students.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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