Say Hello to the New Sheriffs in Town

Get to know the new security guards on campus, TAPSKC Private Law Enforcement Officers.

Cpl.+Federico+Amigoni%2C+Ofc.+Aaron+Calovich%2C+Chief+Charles+S.+Bell%3B+Sgt+kevin+B.+McNiese%2C+Ofc.+Ashley+Tedford%2C+and+Cpl.+William+Kelly%2C+with+the+TAPSKC+mascot+K9+Rugar-the-Watchdog+are+the+full-time+officers+that+can+be+spotted+on+campus.

Sela Kincaid

Cpl. Federico Amigoni, Ofc. Aaron Calovich, Chief Charles S. Bell; Sgt kevin B. McNiese, Ofc. Ashley Tedford, and Cpl. William Kelly, with the TAPSKC mascot K9 Rugar-the-Watchdog are the full-time officers that can be spotted on campus.

Sela Kincaid, Reporter

Boom! A gun fires. Chief Charles S. Bell along with his team search and check the empty classrooms for evidence of an intruder, listening closely to where they could be hiding. They are careful not to be noisy so that the intruder will be caught off guard. The search ends as the Traffic and Public Safety Private Law Enforcement Officers track down the shooter in their “active shooter” threat assessment scenario.

TAPSKC officers are the new security team patrolling the school since Nov. 3, 2018. Bell founded TAPSKC and decided that since they are new to the school that they would hold a threat assessment at school during Christmas Break. All officers participated and created a series of dangerous scenarios that could happen, from an angry parent who needs to be escorted out to an active shooter. These threat assessments are used to make sure all officers know their surroundings and will be able to act in the case of an intruder or threat of any kind. During the “active shooter” scenario, officers tried to find the hypothetical “shooter” in the building by sound. Popguns were used instead of real guns to simulate the sound of a gunshot by releasing carbon dioxide. These activities keep the officers alert and trained so that they are always ready for a threat.

“Learn it and then train it so that hopefully you never have to use it and you’re well prepared if you do,” Bell said.

Bell has 20 years of experience in the private sector, is a firearm instructor and is a K9 officer. To become a TAPSKC officer there are certain tests and certifications needed. This includes law enforcement training and a physical agility test. The candidates also need 88 hours of state accredited law enforcement training, 12 additional hours of training specialized in active shooter threats, be basic life support certified, background checked, conduct an oral interview, and now as of January, every hire has to go through a written aptitude test similar to that of the police and score 80 percent or higher.

“One of the benefits of having TAPS is that they also work with Rockhurst,” Principal Natalie McDonough said. “So they know some of the same families.”

McDonough points out that since Rockhurst High School is involved in some decisions regarding the school like snow days and are invited to school dances, it is very helpful that they also share the same security team. Since TAPSKC can identify people from both schools, they can be more informed when at school events in order to keep the school in check and safe from danger.

“We are professionals,” Bell said. “We are not the ‘anyone can sign up and get hired’ security guards.”

Corporal William Kelly 0202, Corporal Federico Amigoni 0234, Officer Ashley Tedford 0232, Officer Aaron Calovich 0242, and Sergeant Kevin B. McNiese 0211 are the five full-time officers besides Chief Bell. All of these officers have been trained to the expectations set for TAPSKC Private Law Enforcement Officers and perspective officer candidates, Brianna Voyles and Dylan Tharp are in the process.

“We do everything an officer does,” Bell said. “Except stop traffic and pull people over.”

The officers protect the school by monitoring the surveillance cameras, making sure doors are locked, looking for suspicious activity and conducting scheduled and random patrols to make sure that there is nothing strange taking place on school property.

“We like to be seen on the outside of the school as a deterrent, versus staying inside,” McNiese said. “Because if anything is going to happen it will come from the outside. If you can catch it in the parking lot that’s a lot better.”

Bell said that it is very important to him that all students feel safe when he and his officers are around. He is looking forward to when the TAPS will feel at home with both students and teachers.

“We want the students to feel comfortable with us here at Sion,” Bell said. “We have had a lot of interactions with the staff, but not the students. I hope that it is just the difference in changing over to new security, that they can get used to us. A fist bump or a ‘Good Morning’ is always welcome, the officers are here for your protection, so you should look at us kind of like your personal bodyguard.”