By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Police officials are concerned about the problems in Groveport Madison Schools that require a frequent police presence.
In his report to Groveport City Council, Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said that, in November, officers responded to 42 calls for police to schools within Groveport and that 16 of these calls were generated from Groveport Madison High School. He said the calls included assaults, disorderly conduct, officer in trouble, fights among students, and students with hand guns.
“What goes on in the schools affects how people view our community,” said Groveport City Councilman Jack Rupp at council’s Dec. 12 meeting.
Rupp added that, while city council does not have jurisdiction on what goes on in the schools, he has been attending Groveport Madison Board of Education meetings to “stay informed.” Other council members also indicated an interest in attending the school board meetings.
According to the Groveport Police, a sampling of police calls at the high school in November included: Nov. 3 – a student had 40 caliber bullet magazines fall out of his pants pocket; Nov. 7 – several fights among students; Nov. 9 – student arrested for possessing a hand gun on school property; Nov. 15 – several students fighting; Nov. 17 – female student assaulted by another female student; and Nov. 21 – female student assaulted two other female students.
“Some calls resulted in several law enforcement agencies (including Groveport, Madison Township, Obetz, Franklin County, and Columbus) taking official action,” said Adams. “This action ranged from visual presence from officers in the schools to pepper spray use of force on large groups of individuals assaulting each other and staff members, and detaining and arresting individuals with hand guns on school property during the normal school hours.”
Adams said his department has discussed with Groveport Madison Schools administrative staff his concerns with “the large amount of resources these incidents require, which then requires our police department to divert from normal patrol duties to handle and monitor the high school when a critical incident occurs on school property.”
He said district officials understand and have “become more proactive” in their responses. He said school officials are working with security consultants and other schools to “find better ways to resolve incidents before they get out of control.”
The high school uses two school resource officers, one from the Groveport Police and one from the Madison Township Police. He said Madison Township’s SRO officer will spend more time at the high school and less time at schools in the northern portion of the district.
Adams said officers make every attempt to identify and criminally charge those who have committed the crime of violence.
“We understand that the police cannot arrest our way of this problem within our schools, but our response will send a clear message that actions have consequences and we will not tolerate criminal behavior in our schools that place our students in danger.”
He added that the Groveport Madison Schools superintendent’s office has informed him that the district is taking a “stronger stance” when it comes to administrative code violations and “holding students accountable for their actions.”
Police and district officials meet regularly to discuss safety and security measures in the schools.
“Myself and Lt. (Josh) Short have had several meetings with the school administration,” said Adams.