BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee city and school officials met with local residents for a discussion about safety throughout the community on August 29.
The Maumee Community Safety Forum, which was held at the Maumee High School Performing Arts Center, invited residents to learn more about the programs and initiatives that are currently in place and to answer questions and receive feedback.
“We know that our community cares about our safety practices and procedures, and we want to share updates and answer questions,” said Maumee City Schools Superintendent Steve Lee about the forum.
Together, the district staff and city officials explained the procedures and protections in place at Maumee City Schools and throughout the community to keep everyone safe.
Beginning in the late 1990s, a safety committee was created to recognize areas in need of improvement throughout the district and to execute plans to make the schools safer for staff and students.
The district’s supervisor of facilities Larry Burda leads the committee and informed the community of the impact of the committee.
According to Burda, the committee has been involved with adding security and safety measures throughout the district, including AEDs (automated external defibrillators), additional fencing, stop-the-bleed bags at each building and labeling doors and windows with large numbers.
“It makes the doors easily identifiable for the police and fire when they come to the building, so they know where they should be going,” Burda explained.
The district must work closely with police and firefighters on all safety initiatives and security procedures to make sure, in the event of an emergency, the response can be swift and organized.
Jason Dugan, district director of technology, explained to the forum attendees that the doors at each building, which can be opened by staff using their badges, can also quickly be locked down completely, except to firefighters and police.
If a teacher uses an emergency alert button in a way that shuts down the doors of the building, the system also automatically notifies the building principal, district superintendent, the school resource officer (SRO), and the police and fire departments.
In the event of an emergency in which first responders are called to the school, the district has several plans in place specific to the level of threat and danger facing the staff and students.
In all cases, families and members of the community are asked to stay away from the school and avoid calling the district to ask questions. Contacting the schools or trying to get on the property during an emergency situation can take resources away from resolving the incident.
It is best for families to wait to hear from the school, so individuals are advised to wait by their phones until informed otherwise, Lee said.
“We will communicate as quickly as possible,” Lee explained. “In these events, our priority is the students and student safety, and sometimes that takes some time before we can get the message out.”
In an emergency, alerts will be sent out to families using the automated messaging system as well as updates posted to the Maumee City Schools official social media pages and the Maumee Police Division and Maumee Fire & EMS social media pages.
In order to help prevent some emergency situations from occurring, district staff members familiar with each building have worked with police to find areas of concern, which were outlined for a $100,000 safety grant for each school building through the state.
This grant has allowed the schools to at least double the viewing area of cameras throughout the district, Dugan said.
More than 80 new cameras, many of which have 180-, 270- or 360-degree views, were installed throughout the district.
“We went through every building with the principal as well as the SROs and kind of mapped out a wish list of areas of concerns and then we laid out what we can spend,” Dugan explained. “What’s interesting about this technology, these cameras, they’re called Avigilon and the city of Maumee uses the exact same camera system as we do. They use state-of-the-art analytical technology.”
The cameras allow Dugan to enter a person’s data, including height and clothing, to follow a person and know where they have appeared on camera in the district in just a few seconds, Dugan said.
Using these techniques, the district and city hope to prevent, rather than have to react to danger, but they are prepared either way, Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow stated.
Training courses are held throughout the year, which makes sure all first responders are prepared for specific events and ready to work together.
“We’ll go through with the fire department and train. We try to do it on a yearly basis,” Sprow said.
In the event of a mass casualty event or other incident, it’s important that police can secure an area enough to allow EMS through to provide necessary aid and that the crews can work as quickly and effectively as possible.
Additionally, officers are also equipped with several types of first aid supplies, Sprow said.
Sprow also explained other ways the police work to keep the community safe.
The police department performs checks on business during the night, which Sprow said has led to a decrease in the total amount of breaking and entering incidents each year, from approximately 20-30 to less than five.
Vacation checks can also be performed on homes by registering through the department.
“We’re pushing about 38,000 calls for service a year. That’s about 100 calls per day. We have three officers working per shift. That’s our minimum shift, that’s three patrolmen.” Sprow said. “The 38,000 calls, some are traffic stops, medical runs, it’s everything that we do.”
Senior outreach is also conducted throughout the community, using the Area Office on Aging, and even the help of the United States Postal Service, to alert family or friends of potential issues for seniors living alone.
The work that city and school officials do to keep the community safe is impressive, said Maumee Mayor Rich Carr.
Holding these meetings to explain plans and to be open to suggestions and questions, rather than waiting until after an incident occurs, is important, he added.
At the end of the forum, city and district officials were available to meet face to face with residents.
Residents were also asked to write down questions they had for city or school officials and to provide feedback on safety and security issues at the end of the meeting.
The answers to those questions will be made available at maumee.k12.oh.us for the community to read.