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Armed officers for Wallenpaupack

Wallenpaupack Area School District introduced its new school resource officers for the 2013-14 year: they are Aaron Bertholf, left Eric Halas, John Clader and Bradley Beach.
TRR photo by Kevin Kearney

By Fritz Mayer
August 28, 2013

PALMYRA TOWNSHIP, PA — Four recently hired school resource officers were introduced at the Wallenpaupack Area School District meeting on August 19.

The armed officers were appointed as a result of the mass shootings at an elementary school last year in Newtown, CT. Following the shootings, Wallenpaupack area parents approached the administration and requested armed officers as a safeguard to school security.

John Clader, a 25-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, is the director of security. His main coverage area is the high school.

Clader introduced his officers, who will have primary responsibility for different school buildings, but will rotate in order to become familiar with each school in the district.

Bradley Beach, who served 22 years with the Pennsylvania State Police, will cover the South Elementary School in Newfoundland.

Aaron Bertholf, a police officer in Hawley, is assigned to the North Primary School.

Eric Halas comes to Wallenpaupack with 22 years experience with the Pennsylvania State Police. He will serve at the Middle and North Intermediate schools, which are in the same building.

Each officer has a uniform: khaki pants and a shirt with the school colors of purple and white. Each has a badge and an equipment belt.

Superintendent Michael Silsby said the district is fortunate to have hired the “outstanding” officers. Clader has been working at the district through the summer to organize the program.

Silsby said the importance of enhancing security was underlined this month with the slayings of three people at a Ross Township supervisors’ meeting in Monroe County.

In addition to security, the officers will be embedded in the school culture with an aim to build relationships with students, staff and the community. The officers hope to gain the trust of students so the students won’t be afraid to approach them with important information.

Several board members spoke in favor of the initiative, including John Kiesendahl, who said he expects the program to be an extremely positive experience for students.