Safe in every way: ZCS adopts armed officer policy


At the June 11 Zionsville Community Schools Board of Trustees meeting, the dialogue focused heavily school safety and the policy changes that will ensure students’ protection.

Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak ensured additional safety measures for all Zionsville schools. (submitted photo)

ZCS Supt. Scott Robison, Boone Co. Sheriff Mike Nielsen,  Zionsville Police Chief Robert Knox and Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak announced that all schools will have at least one uniformed police officer beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.

Several law enforcement leaders attended in a show of support for the policy.

Robison introduced a multi-pronged approach to school safety, which involves two main categories — a systemic change initiative focusing on behavior and mental health support, and a strategic implementation of devices, practices and staffing which will include at least one armed police officer in all schools.

“Simply put, safety solutions could never cost as much as any child’s safety is worth,” Robison said.

Behavioral Intervention Practitioner Dabney Frothingham and Director of Student Services Maggie Ionnacci presented a new enterprise known as the Dynamic Student Services Team. DSST ties in to the ZCS Strong in Every Way initiative, focusing on student social and emotional development. The approach also will connect parents with additional community resources for their children, and provide support for teachers who have challenging students in their classroom.

“We are seeking to support students at all levels,” Ioannacci said.

Boone Co. Sheriff Mike Nielsen addressed the board with his recommendation for officers to be in schools at all times. (submitted photo)

Nielsen stressed the importance of having an officer in every school. He said that the recent Noblesville shooting hit too close to home, but that he felt it was not a matter of if, but when it happens here.

“As sheriff, I take the safety of our children more seriously than any other part of my duty,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen said he is working with Knox on the district’s ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) procedures. Noblesville uses the same safety strategy. Nielsen commended Noblesville Schools for their execution of the plan after the recent shooting.

Steve Jacob of the Boone County Council said one officer per school is not a new or reactionary recommendation, adding that the council has been working on implementation for more than one year. Funding will be the issue, but the town of Zionsville must follow up on Nielsen’s recommendation.

“If you don’t have safety, nothing else matters,” Jacob said. “I stand before you to tell you that we are going to find funding, some way, somehow.”

Knox promised that the Zionsville Police Dept. will follow through and provide an officer for every school.

“We will do everything we can to keep all of the children safe,” Knox said. “That is my commitment to you. As long as I’m on the job, we are going to have officers in our schools.”

Haak stressed the importance of the issue.

“We have a common goal with an easy solution,” Haak said. “This is extremely important.”

Concluding the discussion on safety, Robison announced that Chad Smith would be returning to ZCS to serve as the district’s safety specialist and energy manager, effective July 1.

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