12/27/2012 11:09:00 AM CF city council talks school safety
by Ken Haggerty
Following a moment of silence to remember the dead in the Newtown, CT school shooting, Mayor Robby Robinson moved the Cannon Falls December 18 city council meeting into a discussion of local school safety.
Cannon Falls school district Superintendent Beth Giese was present and thanked the Mayor and Police Chief Jeff McCormick for calling and offering any assistance in the wake of the shooting.
Giese noted that the District, the Police, the Hospital, and local EMTs had just completed a live shooter drill at the school on a weeknight just before the Newtown incident.
The Superintendent said Chief McCormick and his staff have been very helpful in working with the District over the years and had used the School earlier this year for a multi-agency shooter training.
McCormick said he is confident that local emergency staff are well trained and would be able to deal with a tragedy in a professional manner.
Giese said the students are also well drilled in what to do in fire, weather and code red situations. Giese said they do well beyond what the State requires.
The school is like a small town of 1,400 people on school days, said Giese (1,200 students and 200 staff).
Giese said she is close to getting one-year funding for a Police-School liaison, something she was working on well before the Newtown shooting. If that comes through, Giese said she would need matching funds from the City to make it a reality. She said she understands first-hand that the budget may be tight to fund a position.
Giese noted the CFPD day officers eat lunch with the students one day a week and that night patrol officers do a walk-through during evening events at the school.
The liaison position would be designed to be more than just a safety position, Giese said. She said she would offer more details as she heard more about funding.
The low level of crime and relative affluence of Cannon Falls means the District doesn't qualify for very much support, said Giese.
Council Member LeRoy McCusker said the Newtown incident hit him like a rock, relating it to news of assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King in the 1960s.
McCusker said he grew up in Vasa and didn't even know what a truancy officer was until he was in his twenties and had a friend who got a job as one in another city. McCusker said times have changed and we have to make sure our schools are safe.
Robinson said it is a good discussion to have and said the Sheriff's Office should be included as well.
Giese noted that the City has been good to work with on other matters, like public access TV and the student-built house.
McCormick noted that the CFPD has worked with businesses as well on safety programs and security reviews and is always willing to meet with people to discuss possible emergency situations.