High Schools Eye Beefed Up Security at Sports Events

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Copyright 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
Mark Smith Assistant Sports Editor

Albuquerque and Rio Rancho officials said there are no immediate plans to institute new security policies at high school sporting events similar to those in the Four Corners area. But there is a possibility of changes in the future.

This week, the Farmington Daily Times reported that four Farmington-area high schools changed security protocol, which now includes identification checks, bag searches and metal detectors for entering prep basketball games and other campus events. The schools, Farmington, Piedra Vista, Aztec and Kirtland Central, are in District 1-4A.

The protocols will be put in place by the beginning of the district basketball season Jan. 31.

Kirtland Central athletic director Kevin Graham told the Daily Times: "I think we're just trying to get out in front on this, and you'll see this statewide before long."

Ken Barreras, athletic director for the Albuquerque Public Schools, said making such changes in the Duke City "hasn't been anything that's really on our radar quite yet. First, there would be conversations I'd have with our own police chief, the deputy police chief and personnel that help secure our events.

"I know what's going on in different parts of the country that have experienced critical situations, and I think we always want to be proactive. ... I'd be interested to hear a little bit more about what (District 1-4A is) doing and what they've experienced that has caused them to do this, and what kind of result they're looking for."

The new policy will require adults and high school students to show photo IDs before being allowed admission into any event.

Elementary and middle school students or any students without IDs will need to be accompanied by an adult, the Daily Times reported.

Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association said she isn't surprised by the change. She said athletic directors are required to be Safe Sport Zone certificated. At the ADs annual meetings in Albuquerque in October, they had a mandatory presentation by Jay Hammes, an athletic director from Wisconsin who is certified by the National Interscholastic Association of Athletic Administrators.

"What we wanted to do was give the athletic directors sometraining and information to go back to their schools and help them," Marquez told the Journal. "... All (Hammes') thoughts were in regards to the safety of the fans, the kids, the administration."

As far as seeing major statewide changes, Marquez said: "I think there are going to be schools and districts that are going to take pieces of (the presentation). We had a lot of information that was given. Some may work for some schools, and some may not.

"In anything, safety comes first, and the more we're prepared the better we'll all be - with CPR, first aid, someone having a heart attack. We all need to be prepared for any situation that arises."

In District 1-4A games, purses and backpacks will be permitted but will also be subject to random searches.

School administrators said they do not anticipate an increase in security costs because of the new protocols. "We have security at these games already, and we'll reallocate the people we have working," Piedra Vista athletic director Kelly Thur told the Daily Times.

Bruce Carver, athletic director of Rio Rancho Schools, said the presentations at the October meetings "have a lot of people talking," and changes could eventually occur.

"Time will tell. I think we definitely, in our society, have to look at safety and security every day. Look at what happened (Tuesday)," Carver said referring to the middle school shooting in Roswell. "We have more security guards than most schools at all of our games. But we have an athletic council looking at (changes) and talking it through. We haven't made any big changes like in Farmington, but we're certainly looking at it."

Carver said there is more to changing protocol than just beefing up security.

"The financial part comes into play," he said. "How many extra people are you going to hire? And if you have a small event that doesn't have many people coming in, how much are you going to lose that night? We haven't been in the business of increasing budgets the past few years. They've been decreasing and shrinking."

Carver said changes would also likely lead to complaints from fans who didn't want to be searched.

"Certainly, people have always been able to come to a game and enjoy it without taking off their shoes, like at the airport, or those type of things," Carver said. "On the flip side, maybe it's too easy to walk in (a game)."


January 16, 2014




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