Officials Announce Extra Security for Night Football

September 28, 2005
In the wake of a fatal stabbing that occurred Friday night after a high school football game, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, County Council Vice President George Leventhal, Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, and Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast today announced that additional police officers will be assigned to cover Friday night football games at public high schools. The officials also announced that more civilian security personnel, school system staff, and parent volunteers will be present at Friday night games.

“I am heartbroken over this senseless loss of life,” said Duncan. “One child is dead and another is sitting behind bars awaiting trial for murder. Our community must come together and re-double its efforts to prevent more young people from becoming victims of such violence.”

“We have an obligation to take action quickly so that our high schools can continue to provide high-quality activities in an environment safe for everyone,” said Weast. “Youth violence is a growing concern, and we are looking at new ways to address such problems as gang activity, misconduct on school buses, bullying, and other antisocial behavior that disrupts the educational environment of our 24 public high schools.”

The additional officers will be assigned to each evening school sporting event. Games where large crowds are expected and significant rivalry exists between the teams will be staffed with considerably more officers than games where smaller crowds or no rivalries or potential problems exist. The officers will provide crowd supervision and parking lot surveillance, as well as resolve disputes between individuals and groups to prevent violence from erupting.

“We extend our sympathy to those families who have suffered tragic losses in recent weeks.~ Students and parents must feel secure that Montgomery County Public Schools provides a safe environment for learning during the school day and for after-school activities, including large athletic events," said Leventhal.~"I am pleased to see closer cooperation between the school system and the police department, and a greater focus on preventing violence at games.~Students who attend athletic events to enjoy the game and root for their school are welcome.~Students who are looking for trouble are not.~ These shocking incidents also point out the need for~a community dialogue about how to train our young people better in conflict resolution, how to expand the availability of after-school programs, and how to improve students' mental and physical well-being."

A security assessment prior to each game will be conducted by the educational facilities officers, school security staff, athletic directors, and principals of the two schools to determine if more security is needed. Factors such as whether the teams are unbeaten, the size of the expected crowd, the degree of rivalry between the schools, and any intelligence that indicates the potential for violence will be evaluated to determine if security needs to be increased beyond the normal level.

“Violent behavior cannot be tolerated, and I am committed to providing additional officers for all of the remaining public high school football games this season,” said Manger. “But this is not a problem that can be solved solely by additional police and school security staff.Our department will continue to work with the Montgomery County school system and the community at-large to develop additional specific strategies to address the issue of youth violence in our county.”

Leaders of Montgomery County Public Schools worked over the weekend to examine preliminary measures to address teen violence. Among the options being considered are expanding character development programs and problem-solving strategies; expanding student leadership and involvement in modeling good behavior and alerting officials to potential problems; encouraging more parent involvement in student supervision; and initiating a public education campaign to address student behavior issues.

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