School safety was one of the top three crime concerns for Kettering residents last year, according to recent police department survey results.
Safe schools was named as a concern by 45% of survey respondents rating the three crimes they worry most about, trailing only theft and burglary (70%), and drug problems (51%), the 2022 results show.
School safety issues increased 6% since the last Kettering police survey in 2020 and replaced traffic safety among the highest concerns, while the top two remained unchanged, survey records show.
“We’re seeing what’s going on around the country in schools. It’s on everybody’s mind,” Kettering Police Chief Chip Protsman said. “That’s certainly one of the things that we’re looking at.”
Kettering students were among those in multiple school districts charged criminally for school threats in 2022, a year that saw gun threats at Fairmont High School and at an elementary building.
Two 17-year-old FHS students were charged by Montgomery County’s juvenile division with misdemeanors late last year. In February 2022, a loaded gun was found in a 9-year-old’s locker at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.
Survey results were tabulated before criminal charges were filed recently against a Beavercreek man and a Fairmont freshman, both of whom are accused of making threats against FHS in May.
Kettering police and district educators have said repeatedly that school safety is a top priority. Both Protsman and Kettering Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart have lauded the KPD’s school resource officers.
They also have encouraged parents and teachers to speak with students about the seriousness of making school threats.
“There’s a lot of conversations with parents and students, (and) school staff,” Protsman said. “It’s an issue that’s not going away … I don’t think that to be the case.”
Kettering police’s attention to keeping schools safe was rated very good to excellent by 87% of the respondents, city documents show.
One-thousand paper surveys were sent to random Kettering residents seeking opinions on crime issues and the KPD’s performance, which received a 4.5 overall rating on a 5 scale, records state. Results were also compiled from an online survey on the police department’s website Jan. 9 to March 6 of this year, according to the city.
The survey had 276 respondents. Protsman said the department is seeking ways to prompt a larger response rate.
The latest paper survey had 6% fewer participants than in 2020. But the most recent questionnaire had more than double the online responses of the previous one, city records show.
Among other survey findings:
•97% said police deal with the public courteously and professionally.
•96% said officers treat the public fairly, with respect, are appropriately trained, and behave in a way that earns public confidence and respect.
•95% said police use appropriate force during arrests and provide good service.
•79% agreed police enforce traffic laws.
The public’s satisfaction in dealing with Kettering police was the most encouraging aspect of the results, Protsman said.
“You need to have a good relationship with the public that you’re serving,” he said.
KETTERING TOP CONCERNS
Crime 2022 2020
Theft/burglary 70% 71%
Drug problems 51% 55%
Safe schools 45% 39%
Traffic safety 43% 49%
Violence 23% 24%
Drunk driving 19% 25%
Other 15% 9%
SOURCE: Kettering Police Department surveys.