Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Anthony Giaimo did not need the Sandy Hook shootings to prioritize school safety.
However, if you attended, or watched the TESD special safety meeting, or the District’s Finance or regular school board meetings, you may have come away with the mistaken impression that the Tredyffrin Police Department is only peripherally involved in the school safety process. Sure, T/E Superintendent Waters and Kevin Buraks, president of the school board spoke of the good working relationship with the police departments (Tredyffrin and Easttown). Waters and Buraks rationalized the hiring of Andy Chambers as District’s safety consultant because (1) need to act quickly following Sandy Hook; (2) Chambers knew the District buildings and (3) he was a lot cheaper ($125/hr.) than previous safety consultants. At the last school board meeting, someone mentioned the District had previously spent $100K for a safety consultant post-Columbine.
Beyond the obvious transparent issues that accompanied the hiring of Chambers, I could not help but wonder how this safety consultant was going to work with current police staff, given the reasons behind his departure from Tredyffrin. I also could not understand what Chambers was going ‘to do’ for the District that experienced Tredyffrin Police Supt. Anthony Giaimo and Easttown Police Chief David Obzud, and their respective departments. were not already doing.
For those like me, that may have been confused about ‘who knew what and when’ in regards to the school safety situation and Chambers hiring by the District, I clarified some of these points with Giaimo today.
Fact: Giaimo has 23+ years of experience with the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.
Fact: Neither Dr. Waters nor the school board consulted Giaimo before hiring Chambers. Giaimo was told a couple of hours before the announcement at the District safety meeting.
Fact: The school ‘hardening’ suggestions that the District is implementing were the personal recommendations of Giaimo, including the notification panic buttons, buzzer system and the ballistic film on windows and doors.
Fact: Giaimo has been actively involved in developing a crisis plan with administrators of each school and doing building safety assessment on District schools (as well as private and nursery schools). According to Giaimo, school safety has been an ongoing priority of his, not just post-Sandy Hook.
Fact: Waters and the District were fully aware of Giaimo’s school safety and crisis plan – prior to the hiring of Chambers.
Fact: There has not been a District school safety meeting between Giaimo and Chambers.
Fact: It is unclear how Chambers efforts as the District’s safety consultant will differ from efforts currently performed by Easttown and Tredyffrin Township Police Departments.
Fact: Representatives from the Police Department are on the District safety committee.
Fact: The Board of Supervisors has not authorized hiring of 2 additional police officers as recommended by ICMO consultants and approved in the 2013 township budget
School safety has been an ongoing priority for Giaimo and he has been very proactive in his approach since becoming Superintendent. He has a good working relationship with Easttown Police Chief Ozbud and the two are committed to coordinating school safety response, regardless of which township the school is located.
I don’t want to ‘beat a dead horse’ over the hiring of Andy Chambers; I accept the Board approved his hiring. However, it remains unclear to me what additional safety information the District will receive as a result of Chambers’ hiring. Without a ‘scope of work’, it just appears that Chambers could be performing a duplication of effort at the expense of the taxpayers. It is my understanding that the school district will include Giaimo and Ozbud in any school safety decisions based on Chambers’ recommendations.
Our police superintendent has the safety of our children as a continuing priority, not just because of Sandy Hook. Regardless of the number of Tredyffrin Police Department officers, Giaimo remains committed to school district safety. However, more important than ever, providing safety requires adequate police department staffing. If you agree, I strongly suggest attending Mondays Board of Supervisors meeting. (Click here for agenda). The Board of Supervisors has not authorized the two additional police officers recommended by the police department consultants, ICMA and approved in the 2013 township budget.