STOW: Mayor Sara Drew has appointed community and school leaders to a new safety task force.
The group will investigate ways to enhance security in Stow-Munroe Falls schools and other public areas of the city.
Joining Drew on the task force will be: schools Superintendent Russ Jones, Stow High School Principal Chris DiMauro, Stow Police Chief Lou Dirker, Munroe Falls Police Chief Rick Meyer, Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson, University of Akron professor Dave Licate, Stow Councilman Brian D’Antonio, Stow Law Director Brian Reali and Stow Finance Director John Baranek.
“We are just trying to keep ahead of the curve. Hopefully nothing will ever happen,” Dirker said. “These things are happening in cities just like ours, and that is a concern.”
Drew said that following the fatal shooting of 20 students and six teachers last month at Sandy Hook Elementary, she researched Newtown, Conn.
“It was not very different from Stow, and very similar in size,” Drew said.
As of the 2010 census, the population of Newtown was 27,560 to Stow’s 34,837.
Drew said the task force will be looking internally at a host of training needs and preventative measures to present to the Stow City Council, the community and the schools.
In response to fatal shootings at Chardon High last February, Stow-Munroe Falls schools trained employees on what to do if an armed intruder enters a district building.
The ALICE program promotes the progression of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
“You are not just locking the door, cowering down and turning off the lights,” Drew said.
Dirker is also a proponent of the ALICE program.
“ALICE gives you options,” he said. “It tells you to consider your options. Consider what your situation is at the time and respond accordingly.”
Drew has given the newly appointed task force until March 31 to present ideas to the public. Members will have their first meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Mayor’s Conference Room at City Hall.
Heather Beyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.