Randy Sehl was a familiar face in the Bedford Public Schools during his seven years as a school resource officer there. Now he’s becoming an equally well-known figure in the much larger Washington Local district in Toledo.
In August, Mr. Sehl was hired as the district’s first director of police, safety, and security. Washington Local officials invited him in to hear his ideas on school safety, and they were so impressed they offered him the $71,464-a-year job.
Superintendent Patrick Hickey said Mr. Sehl was the only candidate he had in mind when consideration was given to putting one person in charge of the growing district’s security programs.
“We probably wouldn’t have done this if we hadn’t targeted Randy,” Mr. Hickey explained. “It had to be the perfect person. We didn’t advertise. We’re not just hiring a cop. He’s a school security and safety specialist. We’ve had our police on campus, but now they’re headed by an officer with arresting power, if it’s needed. We’ve always emphasized security in our district. Hiring Randy, I believe, truly speaks to our commitment to be on the cutting edge of school safety and security.”
Mr. Sehl, 50, comes to Washington Local with a long history as a law-enforcement officer working in schools. A Bedford Township resident, he was a Monroe County sheriff’s deputy for almost 19 years, assigned to the Bedford schools for seven years and the Dundee schools for nine years.
He also did a five-year stint as an officer in Erie Township and still works there two days a month to maintain his certification as a sworn Michigan police officer. For the Washington Local position, he completed 80 hours of training and was deputized by Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp.
At the Bedford schools, Mr. Sehl and his partner, Deputy Randy Krupp, were extremely popular with parents, students, and staff, and credited with preventing fights and bullying, curbing drug abuse, and serving as role models.
But the Bedford school board reluctantly eliminated one of its school resource officers in December as part of a cost-cutting campaign to help bring the district out of deficit, and Mr. Sehl returned to regular sheriff’s office duties. Then-Interim Superintendent Jon White emphasized at the school board meeting that eliminating the resource officer was necessitated by the district’s precarious financial situation. He said he had known Mr. Sehl since the lawman was a Bedford High School student and described him as “exemplary.”
As the security chief at Washington Local, Mr. Sehl oversees two sworn police officers on his staff. The district also pays half the cost of two Toledo police officers assigned to the schools and makes use of retired Toledo police officers as well as a Lucas County sheriff’s deputy and a Washington Township officer. The district also has two private security services patrolling its buildings at night.
“We have security 24 hours a day,” said Mr. Hickey. “During the school day, we have 6,900 kids plus 850 staffers on our campuses. We are big and we need as much focus on security as we can achieve.”
Mr. Sehl has brought to Washington Local some of the programs he had at Bedford. One of them, called “Stranger Danger,” teaches children how to recognize and walk away from a stranger showing an unseemly interest in them. He also has a program for female school staffers that teaches self-defense. The instructors are University of Toledo police officers Julie Lavey and Jill Goldberg, both Whitmer grads.
“There’s a lot more traffic here. There’s a bigger crowd. But Whitmer is just a big Bedford,” Mr. Sehl said. “It’s really a dream job for me.”