York school board approves Small Field security measures

Written by Angie Mason/York Daily Record | Sep 22, 2016 9:06 AM

York City School District is upgrading security measures outside Small Athletic Field after two people were shot outside the stadium during a football game Sept. 9. (Photo: Paul Chaplin, For the York Daily Record)

The school board also approved spending for security equipment upgrades.

The York City School Board voted 7-2 Wednesday to have a York City Police officer and York County Sheriff's officer patrol the parking lot outside football games at Small Athletic Field the rest of this season. Those games have been moved to Saturdays, rather than Friday nights.

The board also unanimously approved spending around $18,000 on equipment upgrades, such as additional cameras and network improvements for the Small Field security system, and additional radios for increased staff acting as security inside the gates.

The changes come after two people were shot in the parking lot outside Small Athletic Field during a home game Sept. 9. District Supt. Eric Holmes has also said the William Penn Bearcats' home games for the rest of the season will be played on Saturdays instead of Friday nights.

The police item was approved with a memorandum of understanding yet to be worked out regarding the cost. Some board members said they had concerns about what exactly the officers would be doing.

Holmes said the officers would simply be patrolling in their cars, to allow them to keep an eye on all parts of the parking lot. The city police would not be inside the stadium, he said, but the school district's own officers could be inside and out.

Board member James Sawor initially expressed support for the measure, but changed his mind, saying he could not be in favor of it without "very strict guidelines" for whatever police officer would be working in the parking lot.

Julian Glover talks about what he saw and heard as he leave a high school football game following a shooting near Small Athletic Field on Friday. Gordon Rago

Juanita Kirkland, who also voted against the measure, said she didn't believe in bringing armed officers onto the property.

"I just don't think we need to bring more guns into the situation," she said.

Sandra Thompson, president of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the board she understands the challenges the district faces in ensuring safety. But she urged them to carefully consider how police would interact with those attending games, noting recent police shootings of black males around the country and the general tension between the community and police.

"We still want to encourage attendance and participation, but let these youth be youth," she said.

Board member Michael Breeland said that conversation should be had, but the immediate concern is safety.

"We will do our due diligence here," he said.

Holmes emphasized that the measures before the board Wednesday were for the short term, so that the rest of this football season could continue safely, without interruption.

"We will be reexamining entire security process at the field and coming back to the board with more information," he said.

He ended Wednesday's meeting by encouraging community members to come out to the field Saturday at noon "to root for the Bearcats."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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