Shootings prompt Gloucester school board to consider increasing security

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jan 12, 2011 - 03:54 PM

Photo: Gloucester School Board member Randy Burak was elected vice-chairman and former vice-chairman Anita Parker was elevated to chairman for 2011 during the Board’s meeting Tuesday. Photo by Kim Robins.

Gloucester School Board member Randy Burak was elected vice-chairman and former vice-chairman Anita Parker was elevated to chairman for 2011 during the Board’s meeting Tuesday. Photo by Kim Robins.

Recent shootings involving elected officials have led the Gloucester School Board to consider having an armed officer attend its public meetings. During the board’s session Tuesday night in the colonial courthouse, newly elected chairman Anita Parker said it had been brought to her attention that the board should consider the move. Members were split on the idea.

"I certainly hope we never have to have them here," said board member Jay McGlohn on having armed security present. "I second that," said Jean Pugh. A board member for over 20 years, Pugh said she has witnessed some "testy" discussions "but never have we felt the need to have law enforcement at our meetings."

Board member Starr Belvin said she did not have a problem with having law enforcement present. She said she did not think an armed officer would intimidate most persons attending the meetings, but would intimidate someone who intended harm.

Board member Randy Burak said law enforcement presence may make people addressing the board feel more comfortable, especially if something controversial was being discussed. He said the board employs school resource officers that could possibly be utilized for meeting security.

The makeup of the county has changed, said member Kevin Smith, with many new people having moved into the community. "Gloucester is just not what it used to be. I think we really need to think about this," he said of adding security.