By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison’s safety and security measures ensured that the varsity football game against Gahanna on Aug. 25 was peaceful.
“The game went smoothly and was relatively trouble free,” said Groveport Police Lt. Josh Short. “Most importantly, no fights, no weapons, no arrests. Groveport Madison Schools had a great plan in place and everyone was able to simply enjoy a Friday night football game.”
The safety and security actions were taken in response to incidents that have occurred at school events that have included fights, the confiscation of guns, and arrests. (See related story on page X.) Attendance at the Aug. 25 game against Gahanna was sparse.
District officials instituted a large triangular shaped safety zone outside the stadium with two Evolv weapons detection systems in place, one at each entry point of the safety zone. (The district has six Evolv systems – five at the high school and one at Cruiser Accel.)
“No one could get into the stadium unless they passed through the Evolv system,” said Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent Paul Smathers. “All of Cruiser Stadium’s fences and gates were also guarded.”
Added Groveport Madison Director of Business Services Chris Reed, “Students like the Evolv system. It makes them feel safe. No one could get into the game without going through the Evolv system. It’s a safe, secure deterrent. If you have a weapon, you’re going to get caught.”
In addition school officials and police monitored the gates to identify students coming to the game.
There were 10 special duty police officers at the game – five Groveport Police officers (including the school resource officers) and five Gahanna Police officers.
Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon said mutual aid agreements and legal statute allows for compacts between police jurisdictions to work together.
According to the Groveport Police, anyone ordered by school officials or police officers to leave the football stadium and school property for any reason, must do so immediately.
Anyone who fails to comply will be arrested for criminal trespass and that anyone found to be illegally carrying a firearm or other dangerous weapons on school property will be arrested.
The Groveport Police stated the curfew for minors in the city of Groveport is 11 p.m. In a statement released Aug. 24, the Groveport Police said, “After 11 p.m. unattended juveniles will not be permitted to loiter on or around school property for any reason and if they are found without a responsible parent or guardian they will be arrested and taken into police custody. Our students and community expect and deserve to enjoy watching our football Cruisers in a safe environment,” according to the Groveport Police statement. “The Groveport Police and Groveport Madison officials will not tolerate disruptions or illegal actions and
will prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law.”