Open letter to the community From Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier:
Stark County Sheriff addresses recent violence affecting youth in an emotional letter to the community.
It is with a heavy heart that I pen this letter as this week has been both tragic and heart wrenching to our Stark County community. Students and parents in school districts across the county have lived in fear as the result of the events that have transpired over the past week. I recognize and understand your fears and I want you to know that I hear you. My staff and I are dedicated to this community and we are dedicated to you.
I want you to know that I continue to be in constant communication with the Educational Service Center to develop and maintain a relationship with your school Superintendent. I have personally met with and worked with school Superintendents throughout the county to ensure safety and security within the schools our children attend. We will continue to work together in developing safety protocols as well as addressing the mental health issues and identifying children in crisis.
Our schools for more than ten years have had and continue to evaluate a safety plan for every single building in the district.
These plans have been written and evaluated in coordination with the Sheriff’s Office, local police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Buildings have been modified, technology added, and penetration tests performed. These plans are mandated by state law and are law enforcement sensitive for the protection of our schools. I assure you that we will continue to work together to identify and develop additional resources and actively participate in discussions about metal detectors, arming school employees, increasing security staff as well as a host of other security measures.
We must recognize that this problem is beyond just strengthening our school security and so we must also address those issues to truly solve it.
Early Friday afternoon I hosted a meeting with Stark County police chiefs. I assure you that we are unified in our approach to investigating school threats and utilizing the full extent of the law to deter threats and activity of this nature. We will be working with the Superintendents in our communities to support them in their mission to continue to enhance safety measures at schools. The chiefs are committed to working with me to develop and implement effective security solutions.
Every threat against a school will be taken seriously. Stark County law enforcement agencies have conducted over 40 investigations related to potential threats at schools. Most of these incidents have been where someone has posted or reposted a potential threat on social media. These cases are examples of the misuse of social media to create fear and disruption in our schools. We have committed our resources to conducting thorough and detailed investigations to determine whether the threat is valid and holding those responsible accountable.
Parents, we need your help too. I am asking that you work with us to promote a safe educational environment for all students and staff. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our children safe. Talk to your children. Ask them questions and engage with them. Remind them of the dangers associated with social media and how to use it properly, and always let them know you’re listening. We need to remember and never lose sight of what is most important to us, our children. As a reminder, if you have firearms in your home you should take every measure to ensure that they are secured so that they are not accessible to children.
As your Sheriff, I share in your anxiety over the current issues related to school safety facing not only our county but the entire country. I am committed as a father and a grandfather with grandchildren in Stark County schools, to providing the necessary resources and guidance to make Stark County safe for everyone.
Evil prevails when good men do nothing.