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Stark County sheriff writes open letter to community following 'tragic and heart wrenching' week

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Posted at 3:04 PM, Feb 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-25 17:04:54-05

In a long Facebook message to his community on Sunday, the Stark County Sheriff expressed law enforcement's continued and enhanced efforts to keep schools safe, following the "tragic and heart wrenching" week in Stark County.

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"I recognize and understand your fears and I want you to know that I hear you," Stark County Sheriff George Maier wrote. "My staff and I are dedicated to this community and we are dedicated to you."

Maier said he will continue to build a relationship with the school superintendents and maintain constant communication to ensure safety and security within schools across the county. This includes developing safety protocols, addressing mental health issues and identifying children in crisis, Maier said.

Maier said every school building in the district has a safety plan that continues to be evaluated. Safety is coordinated with the Sheriff's Office, local police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Buildings have been modified, technology added and penetration tests performed. These plans are mandated by state law and are law enforcement sensitive for the protection of our schools," Maier said.

Maier said law enforcement agencies will continue to build upon existing protections, and will actively participate in discussions about metal detectors, arming school employees, increasing security staff and other security measures.

On Friday, Maier met with the Stark County police chiefs, who he said are all unified in their approach to investigating and deterring school threats. Maier said every threat against a school will be taken seriously.

Maier concluded his note with a message to parents, asking them to promote a safe educational environment for all students and staff. He encouraged parents to talk to their children about the dangers associated with social media and how to use it properly.

"We need to remember to never lose sight of what is most important to us, our children," Maier wrote.

He also reminded parents with firearms to take every measure to secure them, so that they are not accessible to children.

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"As your Sheriff, I share in your anxiety over the current issues related to school safety facing not only our county but the entire country. I am committed as a father and a grandfather with grandchildren in Stark County schools, to providing the necessary resources and guidance to make Stark County safe for everyone. Evil prevails when good men do nothing."