District hires safety officer to strengthen emergency protocols

Mike EthertonTo help ensure the safety of students and staff, the Gloversville Enlarged School District has hired a tactical operations expert to take a close look at security and emergency response measures across the district.

The GESD Board of Education recently hired Michael Etherton, a retired New York State trooper with more than 20 years of tactical response experience, to serve as the district’s new school safety officer. Etherton’s first day in the district was Monday, Dec. 17.

A Johnstown native, Etherton joined the U.S. Army after high school and spent 10 years in the military police. After the Army, he began a 25-year career with the New York State Police. As a trooper, Etherton worked 20 years with the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), including 10 years as the supervisor of the Albany SORT team.

Superintendent David Halloran said Etherton’s primary focus will be on evaluating and strengthening safety procedures, protocols and preparedness across the district.

“He’ll be helping us take a holistic approach to safety and security and will be looking at all our protocols with a critical lens,” Halloran said. “I am very confident that Mr. Etherton will help us vastly improve our preparedness for worst-case scenarios and help us become a safer, more alert, informed, trained group of professionals.”

While only in the district a short time, Etherton already has begun working to implement some new safety measures, including training for staff and new procedures for school visitors.

In the near future, the district will upgrade its visitor management system at school entrances with devices that can track visitors and instantly screen them against registered sex offender and other databases. In cooperation with HFM BOCES, the district is also planning to provide ALICE (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate) training for staff and to take advantage of trainings available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“We’ll be developing a proactive mindset for security and safety in the district,” Etherton said. “I look forward to working with everyone.”

The position of school safety officer is a newly created one for the district. Earlier this year, through an agreement with the Gloversville Police Department, the district hired a school resource officer. In that position, Officer Ronald Rue works directly with students and families and provides law enforcement presence in the school buildings.

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