In the wake of the slaughter of children in Newtown, Conn., last Friday, a local citizen was arrested Tuesday after supposedly posing as an intruder and trying to enter Converse Elementary School.
According to information provided by Melissa Badger of the district’s Community and School Relations Office, the man — Dwight Edward Miller — attempted to enter a side door at Converse, 1602 Townline Ave., Tuesday afternoon.
Miller, 58, of the 1500 block of Ritsher Street, was arrested for disorderly conduct and is being in held in Rock County Jail for a probation violation, after attempting to enter the school around 2:30 p.m., Beloit Police Capt. Vince Sciame said this morning.
“There is no indication he was a threat to the school,” Sciame said.
According to court records, Miller has been previously arrested for burglary, his second OWI , obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct and retail theft.
Police were called after Miller was spotted attempting to enter to school. Miller, who lived near the school, was not a parent and said he was only “testing” security.
At Converse, like all School District of Beloit buildings, building doors are locked, including front entrances which are monitored. According to a teacher on the scene at the time of the attempted forced entry, a man in a camouflage shirt showed up at a side entrance of the primary school and was seen trying to forcibly open the doors.
The teacher reminded a nearby kindergartner that students are not to open doors to anyone and remembers hearing through the door that the man was also telling the student not to open the door. She immediately cleared the hallway and notified the front office about the potential of an intruder.
Another staff member found the man on the sidewalk, and was told he was only “testing” school security. The district’s Safety and Security Coordinator was called, who talked to the man and heard his intent to test the school, as well as the man’s name and address. Police were called, responded quickly, and arrested Miller at his home at 2:51 p.m.
The principal, Stephanie Jacobs, will be following up with her staff to evaluate actions taken, as well as sending a letter home to Converse parents on security issues. She plans to not only reinforce previous messages of following correct procedures out of consideration for student safety, but also tightening those procedures such as no longer allowing parents arriving very early to pick up their kids, and waiting inside the school. She notes that it is tough balancing a welcome atmosphere with security, but safety of students and staff is a top priority.
Superintendent Steve McNeal said the community should not take it upon themselves to repeat such an attempt, noting it is not legal, and can be traumatic for students, especially in primary school. Emergency drills, such as lockdown drills, practiced throughout the year in the district, are done with a strong education component meant to instill greater awareness of the different emergency procedures without causing fear. He commends the quick actions of the teacher in getting children to safety, and said he appreciated the Beloit Police Department’s quick response.
When asked if Beloit Police school security officers have guns, Sciame said they do not carry them. The school district has security officers in the middle and high schools.