NEW PHILADELPHIA Dover, Oh

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SUGARCREEK - The Garaway school district is trying out a different approach to safety starting next school year.

The district’s board of education on Monday approved a new, half-time safety officer position for the 2019-2020 school year. Then, they tapped head football coach and 7-12 attendance officer Jason Wallick to step into the position. Superintendent James Millet says this will allow for a more holistic approach to student safety. 

"When we look at safety and security, that prevention is huge, the social-emotional, making that connection with the students. That’s one thing that we think that we’ll really get with Mr. Wallick as well as serving as a protective factor, too," he says.

Wallick says this will give him an opportunity to get out to all of the buildings and provide education on some important safety-related topics. 

"Sex trafficking, that’s really becoming an issue in this area, the drug issues, bullying, sexting, so I’d really like to look into those things and educate not only our staff but also our students with some of those topics as well," he says.

The board is also considering closing out its resource officer contract with the Sugarcreek Police Department when it expires at the end of the current school year. Board member April Beachy says she’s concerned about the disparity in training and potential liability issues should Wallick have to restrain a student. 

"A school resource officer has significant training in law enforcement and firearms and they’re trained to handle hostile people, and we’re putting Mr. Wallick in a position where I would feel uncomfortable if he had to take down a student," she says.

Acting board president Dick Marshall says he thinks Wallick will be fine and that his physical presence will make a difference in the schools. 

Sugarcreek Police Chief Kevin Kaser says the board needs to make sure Wallick gets the proper training and that they have the necessary policies in place. 

"In the event that someone says you used to much use of force, and if they say that, what’s your policies that cover the use of force? All of that stuff is in place with us. We train on that a couple of times a year. We receive that at the training initially to OPOTA standards, so we practice that every day in the field," he says.

Kaser says the department would continue to respond when called for any issues even if the contract is not renewed.

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