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School security chief is a welcome addition

October 19, 2006

The news that the Washington County school system has hired a new security manager is most welcome. If the position becomes vacant again, as it did in May, we strongly urge that someone be designated as acting manager immediately.

The new manager, Steven L. Ganley, is a Smithsburg resident who has extensive experience in law enforcement, beginning as a Maryland State Trooper in 1983 and rising through the ranks to become a criminal investigation supervisor in 2001.

His duties will include evaluating the school system's safety and security plans and recommending changes to senior management.

As we said in our editorial of Oct. 10, one of Ganley's first jobs ought to be making sure that safety and security are built into any new schools or school-renovation projects.

That was one recommendation of a report on school security done in 2000 by the the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

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School entrances have to be built or altered so that no one can come through an unlocked door without a staff person seeing them, getting them to sign in and issuing them a visitor's badge.

Another of Ganley's duties will be conducting periodic safety drills. In part, that will involve doing what Herald-Mail reporters did recently - going to schools and making sure that doors that should be locked are locked and that strangers can't wander unaccompanied through the halls.

Some have criticized what The Herald-Mail did as out of line, saying that the story gave parents the impression their children weren't safe.

If that's how you feel, consider these two things:

On Oct. 3, ABC News quoted Kenneth Trump, of National School Safety and Security Services. Trump said that school systems are most vulnerable when officials have an "it can't happen here mentality."

Just days before The Herald-Mail sent reporters out, the school system's senior management sent all principals e-mails warning them, in the wake of the Amish school shootings, to stay vigilant.

Some did, some didn't. We welcome Ganley with the hope that he can get everyone in the system to take security seriously.

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