Fox Chapel Area to hire 4 school officers, use digital safety app
Fox Chapel Area administrators on Monday night said the district would hire four new school resource officers, implement a digital safety app and use the Raptor school visitor system in an effort to boost security across the six campuses.
The district hosted a special meeting to introduce Joe Kozarian, the new safety and security coordinator, and to outline protocols.
The 15-year law enforcement veteran said he is currently assessing district safety elements.
Kozarian trained more than 80 school resource officers over the summer and said he believes hiring school-based police is crucial.
“It’s the best thing you can do to prevent disasters,” he said.
There currently are officers at the high school and Dorseyville Middle School, both of whom also cover the elementary buildings. Soon, the elementaries will have an officer dedicated to each facility, he said.
In November, the district will begin using the Raptor Visitor Management System. Used at schools across the region, the Raptor system uses a visitor’s ID to screen them for sex offenses and against custom databases that could include custody issues.
Kozarian said there is a priority to improve access control at each school. That might include secured entries, security keys, magnetic locks and separate vestibules.
“It might be an inconvenience to you but it is to keep the kids safe,” he said.
This summer, the district spent $10,000 to build a new entryway at Hartwood Elementary with a secured vestibule.
Kozarian suggested that ramping up “layers” will increase safety.
“There should never be just one door or one camera,” he said.
Layers could also include better lighting on each campus and clear landscaping.
“When officers, or anyone, drives by, they should be able to see the entire area,” he said.
Visitor parking should be visible by office staff, he said, and cameras should be installed across the properties. A simple matter of better signs can provide additional safety, he said.
“You don’t want people wandering around,” he said.
Megan Cicconi, district director of instructional and innovative leadership, told the audience about Ruvna, a new digital safety phone app the district plans to use. It allows staff to communicate security issues in the event of an emergency with a panic button, two-way communication and real-time access to rosters. There is no GPS tracking, she said, and the software can be accessed online and from any device.
Aspinwall Acting Police Chief Dave Nemec attended the meeting and said the district is ahead of the curve because each of the six local police chiefs are “all in” when it comes to school involvement.
“I think this really shows how serious we take the safety of the students at our schools,” he said. “We are all there to pitch in and participate in whatever it takes.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, [email protected] or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.