Police Presence at Schools: Some Parents Ask for Reassurance

As many students go without recess at school, parents ask the board to ensure police won't be going anywhere.

Amy Roman is glad to see the police presence at schools across Newtown after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. But she doesn't want them to go anywhere.

She spoke Tuesday night at meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners and the Board of Education, asking both groups to ensure that police presence is sufficient at schools.

A parent of two children at Head O'Meadow School, Roman says the school system was a major reason she moved to Newtown three years ago. She said she's spoken with many parents in the past weeks.

"The parents I spoke to felt continued police presence was pretty much a given," she said at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. "Based on conversations I've had over last few days with finance and selectmen, it seems nothing with regards to that is a given."

At least two police officers are on the ground at every school in Newtown, according to Superintendent Janet Robinson, and Chalk Hill School in neighboring Monroe — the current location for Sandy Hook Elementary School students — is receiving a special level of presence.

"There's a lot of anxiety around [continued police presence]," Robinson told the board. "You may see the car at the foot of the driveway as a vehicle from another town. Our police at this point don't have the resources to do that, so the other towns are contributing. We're meeting with the police, evaluating, so right now we're going to say it's indefinite. I know some people want to have a stronger commitment, but we'll see where that goes." 

Roman told the board police presence at schools has been on her mind every day — it's one of the main reasons she feels comfortable sending her kids to school.

"It's something we think about every day when we watch our children get on the bus for school," she said. "And we feel it's gone from a want to a need."

The last line drew applause from some other parents in attendance at the Board of Education meeting, where she was one of several parents to offer public comments to the board.

"Going forward, people do want to see permanent police presence at schools," said Michelle Hankin, another parent. "It's unfortunately a new world people are dealing with, and it helps people to learn to feel like they're in a safe environment ... I think a basic human need is security, and security needs have changed."

David Freedman told the board he also came to Newtown for the school system.

"I agree we ought to have police presence," he said, "but we ought to balance it out with the ability for kids to learn, to play, to enjoy being kids without the fear of turning around the corner and having something happen." 

Freedman was bothered by Robinson's report that Newtown's students haven't been getting recess time since the shooting.

"Having kids go on playground is essential," he said. "Please think about the ability to balance police presence, which I'm 1000% for, with the emotional impact of children."

Board of Education Chairman Debbie Leidlein told Patch there's a possibility the level of police presence may change over time.

"Everybody has their recommendations or their belief in what's necessary and what's appropriate," she said. "At this point in time, I believe the level we have is meeting the needs of our faculty, our parents and our students. But that may change. It needs to be an ongoing assessment and an ongoing discussion."

Greg Burns January 12, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Parents from every town should be thinking about the level of physical seciurity and security systems in their schools. Sandy hook was just to easy for a gunman to get into with no direct alarm security help call system and no quick use lock down alarm. In addition some kind of additional protection should be used at the schools, armed or not, until the adequacy of school security systems accross the state gets a hard look. What would make us believe that schools in other towns are any safer than sandy hook?? We could have done better at Sandyhook - my house has better security. We must do better elsewhere or suffer history being repeated.
Greg Burns January 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Brenda, you made two great points: 1.) We should have been doing a lot more to protect our kids before Sandyhook. 2.) The physical and electronic security at bsandy hook wre pitiful. DO we think it is better at other schools across the State. Our politicians are well protected with physical and armed security. But their focusing their attention on mking laws on guns and magazines owned by law abiding citizens. Criminals and crazies do not obey laws. ANd the schools are STILL NOT SAFE.
Fred January 12, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Do you really think our schools were ever safe? Look at Isreal if you want to see how tough it is to defend yourself when someone is willing to go on a suicide mission. Do you really think there are a number of people willing to go on suicide missions? And even if you think there are - were is the money to pay for all of this? This is nothing new, people were not safer years ago - it has always happened in VERY VERY small number.
Brenda January 24, 2013 at 12:39 PM
At this point, I do not think that I would send my daughter to school unless there were police officers there. The resource officers are not enough. They have offices at the school and are not patrolling the halls and parking lot and doors as much as is needed. We need to all face the fact that this can happen again. Sure, noone wants to have anything happen, that is why we need detterents ad we need to be pro-active. You don't get a second chance.
Newtown Resident and Teacher January 24, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Brenda, School Resource Officers ARE police officers. I can only speak for NHS, but the SRO has an office AND patrols. I see him all over the building.


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