GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 24, 2013

Petition seeks security guards for city schools

Placing an armed security guard, possibly a police officer, in each of Gloucester’s schools is the goal of a petition drawn up and circulated by a Gloucester mother of three. And, in less than 10 days, more than 200 residents have signed on.

Tough petition opponents call the measure dangerous and unnecessary, petition author Amanda Kesterson, shaken by the December Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said she she sensed a need to increase security in Gloucester’s schools, and felt sharing her idea can at least spark a conversation on the topic.

”I’m just a mom and I’m scared and concerned, and I want my kids to be safe,” Kesterson said. “I want all of Gloucester’s children to be safe.

”I’m not an expert on security, so I can’t speak to the absolute best situation,” she said. “But there might be something I haven’t even though of that’s better.”

Kesterson said she is simply pressing for some change.

”All of the measures we have taken seem to me to be reactive, rather than proactive,” Kesterson said. “Having a crisis prevention plan doesn’t prevent a crisis any more than having a fire drill plan prevents a fire.”

City Councilor Bruce Tobey, one of two councilors who responded to an email Kesterson wrote to councilors Dec. 19, requesting a public discussion on the topic, said he undamentally opposes the idea.

“Guns don’t belong in schools in a city like Gloucester,” Tobey said. “I would vigorously organize and contest any move that was taken by the school department in that direction.”

Tobey added, however, that he is certainly willing to listen to a public hearing on the topic, and he encourages a dialogue. And that dialogue will be had if at least 150 of the signatures on Kesterson’s petition are verifiable and presented to city councilors, according to the city charter that calls for a public hearing in that case.

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