By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials will take steps to improve security at upcoming football games and extracurricular events following a shooting incident outside Groveport Madison High School’s Cruiser Stadium on Aug. 19.
Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent Paul Smathers said that, prior to the Aug. 19 football game against Canal Winchester, officials from Groveport Madison and Canal Winchester schools, as well as law enforcement and security personnel, prepared a safety and security plan, an evacuation plan, and established safe space hiding spots.
“The plan worked, but it can be improved,” said Smathers.
In an official review of the Aug. 19 shooting incident (see an article detailing the incident on the Messenger website), Smathers said things to be addressed include improving the electronic admission ticketing system, more training, eliminating excessive loitering, and marking exit gates more clearly. He said some positives from the incident included successful communications, quick responses by first responders and school staff, and the press box announcer staying calm to help give fans instructions.
Smathers laid out these future actions to improve security at future football games and events: not allowing backpacks or large bags; increasing the number of special duty police officers; extending the safety check zone at the gates; eliminating loitering; allowing no entry to the stadium starting after the end of the second quarter of football games; restricting student tickets to only Groveport Madison students and students from the visiting school (alumni and community members can still enter); removing troublemakers; removing vehicles from the fire lanes; and issuing school radios to personnel. Other potential actions would be to add lighting to the high school’s north parking lot, using security scanning wands at entry gates, and checking vehicles as they enter the school grounds.
Groveport Madison Superintendent James Grube said other security measures will remain confidential.
“Many of the loiterers outside the stadium were from outside our school district community and the person arrested was also not from here,” said Smathers. “The people fighting weren’t from here. We have to make sure our games are community events.”
Groveport Madison Board of Education President Chris Snyder, who was at the Aug. 19 game said, “We have good people doing good things to work together to care for each other and keep everyone safe. I’m saddened and upset by what happened, but proud of our community and how everyone helped each other.”
Members of the Groveport Madison Board of Education all mentioned how proud they were of the first responders, school staff, and community for their efforts during the incident.