Former Police Chief Takes New Position with FD Schools - from The Messenger
One of the highest priorities of the Fort Dodge Community School District is the safety and security of the students and staff in every school building. To underscore this priority, the district introduced a new administrative role last month - director of safety and security.
"We've been talking about this for a little while, even before I applied for this position," said incoming Superintendent Josh Porter.
He said he credits Interim Superintendent Denise Schares for putting the work into getting the process rolling. "I was just lucky enough to be the guy who started to put it in motion."
On Wednesday, the FDCSD announced that former Fort Dodge Chief of Police Roger Porter has been hired for the role, pending school board approval. Roger Porter will begin on July 1.
Roger Porter comes into this role with 27 years of experience in law enforcement, having retired in early April. Prior to his retirement, he served as police chief for six years.
That background made Roger Porter the perfect candidate for this new role, the incoming superintendent said.
"This person is probably going to be one of our first points of contact with the city police and the sheriff's department," Josh Porter said. "Obviously, hiring Roger, he has great experience and has relationships with those people."
The director of safety and security will work with every building in the district, Josh Porter said. The director will work with the school resource officers from the Fort Dodge Police Department that are in the buildings, as well as the buildings' principals, to make sure all of their safety protocols are intact.
"It's important for people to understand that putting this position in place is not a reaction to anything that has happened locally," said Director of Communications Jen Lane. "It really is a proactive measure to have somebody who can just focus on this piece of it, which is so, so important."
Last fall, the district conducted a vulnerability assessment on all of the district's buildings to identify security shortfalls and, as safety and security director, Roger Porter will be leading the process to take that information and apply for grants for school safety dollars from the state, Lane said.
"All those things that encompass keeping our kids and staff safe every day," she said.
One of the key roles the director of safety and security will fill is the liaison between the schools and law enforcement, Lane said.
"It's just building those relationships between the school and the first responding agencies that then, should there be an incident, it's not the first time we're meeting," she said. "We know each other and we understand each other."
With his experience in law enforcement, and especially as chief of police, Roger Porter will be able to dial in the focus on safety protocol more so than an administrator who is juggling a number of other job responsibilities might be able to, Lane said.
"Having somebody come in who has the background and expertise in that area, I think is vitally important right now," she said.
"Roger will be the first one to report to a school when there's an incident," Josh Porter said.
He said the schools have had incidents where, while serious, don't necessarily rise to the level of needing to involve law enforcement. Part of Roger Porter's role, he said, will be to assess or deescalate a situation and if the situation warrants it, call in law enforcement to assist.
While active shooter attacks are what get widespread attention, there's any number of safety and security issues that can happen at a school.
"It could be a student bringing something they're not supposed to, it could be we have a parent who comes in really upset," Lane said. "There's so many situations that warrant additional support other than an active shooter."
Other situations could include minor fights between students or even weather disasters like a tornado damaging a school building.
Another process Roger Porter will be leading is developing the district's protocol to reunite families with students in the event of a major incident.
He will also take point in the communications part of managing an incident - working with Lane to determine what and how information is released. With his experience working with news media during major incidents as police chief, Roger Porter will be able to coach district staff on how to appropriately respond or, in some cases, be the district's spokesperson.