Roosevelt High School works to limit number of false alarms

Alicia Crabtree

In the past six months, Kent Roosevelt High School has generated 12 false alarms. Due to Kent Police Department’s new 559.03 ordinance, schools and businesses are now being fined $50 for each false alarm following the second false alarm. Kent Roosevelt High School is now up to $500 in fines.

When the ordinance was changed in March of 2013, James Prusha, Kent Police Department’s administrative lieutenant, said they tried to use a little bit of discretion with the school.

“I had a meeting with some of the people from the schools and talked with them about the new ordinance and explained what was going on,” said Prusha. “We kinda cut them a little break in the beginning just so everybody could get used to this new ordinance.”

But on January 14, 2014, a letter was sent out to Kent Roosevelt High School stating that the school has continually been generating false alarm drops within the past six months.

Jim Soyars, Kent City School District’s director of business services, explains that false alarms at the high school fall into two categories: It’s either a problem with the alarm system itself, or it’s human error.

“One thing that will set it off are animals,” said Soyars. “We have a building that from time to time, when it starts to get cold, we’ve got bats that will make it in. We’ve gone up to the building in the middle of the night to get a bat out of there.”

Another issue, Soyars explains, is that teachers and students like to tape things up in the hallways and main areas. If they fall down, that can set off the motion alarm as well.

And of course, said Soyars, groups or staff members will occasionally go into areas of the building they’re not supposed to go into and that will set off the alarm.

“We feel really bad that we’ve been bothering the police here,” said Soyars. “So we’re working on making sure staff understands when our custodians are there and when they can come into the building.”

Soyars is also working closely with Ravenna’s Ashton Security Services to try and fix the false alarm situation.

“We’re working with the security company to try and adjust the sensitivity of our motion sensors so that it’s really an actual person that would set it off and maybe not something smaller,” said Soyars.

Part of the reason the police department encourages businesses to get their alarms to work, explains Prusha, is so officers can respond as if there’s actually someone trying to break into the building.

“We don’t want it to be that when an alarm goes off at the high school our officers are just like ‘oh, I’m sure it’s nothing again,’” said Prusha. “We don’t want them to get lackadaisical about it.”

But it’s hard, said Prusha, when you get 12 in a row when there’s not someone breaking into a building, it’s kinda hard to keep that mindset.”

While this isn’t the first letter the school has received from the Kent Police Department regarding false alarms, Prusha explains the school has been extremely cooperative through the process.

“I know Jim Soyars has been telling me he’s been working with the alarm company to try and resolve some of the issues,” said Prusha.

Soyars is well aware of the number of false alarms Kent City Schools, in particular Roosevelt High School, has had over the past few months.

“We’re trying,” said Soyars. “Obviously we don’t want to waste the Kent City Police officers’ time coming out to the building if it’s not a serious issue.”

Soyars said that these false alarms are not only having an impact on the local police force, but also on the school’s budget.

“We don’t want to be spending any money toward the city outside of what we’re trying to do to educate students,” said Soyars. “So anytime we have to divert money to something that we’re not looking to do, it’s disappointing. So we’re trying to do everything we can to rectify the situation.”