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Sandy Hook Tragedy Sparks Request for 3 New Monroe Police Officers

Police Chief John Salvatore's budget proposal for 2013-14 will respond to public demand for safer schools.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting sent shock waves to nearby Monroe which continue to reverberate. Town police officers and other emergency responders assisted Newtown on the day of the tragedy, and now officers have beefed up security at the relocated school on Fan Hill Road, as well as Monroe's own schools.

"We had an unprecedented challenge face us," Police Chief John Salvatore said. "We are collaterally affected by this, because of the location of this school. We have an obligation to make that school as secure as possible. We are doing all we have to do to provide a sense of security."

Salvatore told the Police Commission at its meeting last week how the town will have to figure out a way to pay for all of the overtime in the existing budget. Town Finance Dir. Carl Tomchik is tracking expenses and the possibility of any state or federal reimbursement is being explored.

The shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, has caused anxiety among families in both towns, according to Salvatore.

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The chief has yet to make a formal budget proposal for fiscal year 2013-14, but he said an increase will be driven by a request for three new officers.

Currently, Jockey Hollow Middle School and Masuk High School are the only town schools with a dedicated school resource officer (SRO). The new officers would allow for a continued police presence at all schools until three officers complete the SRO training.

Salvatore said this request is to meet public demand for safer schools.

The hiring of new officers would increase line items for salaries, uniforms and equipment. But Salvatore said the department is keeping older police cars longer, so any increase in that line item can be kept to a minimum.

Debating the Need

Police Commissioner Bernard Sippin, who owns Sippin Energy and commercial real estate in town, noted how people in the private sector have to tighten their belts, adding the public sector should follow suit.

"Did an increase in population justify three more officers," he asked.

Salvatore said, "At this point in time, people want safety in schools."

"If Newtown moves out of this school, you won't need these officers. Right?" Sippin asked.

Salvatore said, "This proposal addresses the Monroe schools that don't have an SRO. I'm responsible for making sure these are secure environments. I see this as a long term commitment to Monroe."

Commissioner Ed Deak said people have been asking him about costs. He recommended that a letter be written outlining the responsibilities of the new officers, not just in the upcoming budget, but also going forward.

Chairman Ronald Villani agreed that the commission needs to explain the need.

Some commissioners asked what an SRO does after school and during summer vacation.

Capt. Michael Flick said SROs normally do patrol work after school and use their vacation time in the summer. They also fill in for other officers who are on vacation at that time, saving the department on overtime, Flick added.

The number of calls are among the factors driving a need for more police officers, according to Deak. While major storms factored in, he said police received 3,100 more calls this year for a variety of things.  

Of Monroe, Deak said, "It's not the same place I moved to 35 years ago."

jim laguardia January 22, 2013 at 05:46 PM
I guess being two years removed from being citizen of the year means Mr Sippin can get away with saying things like that, maybe we should remove patrols from all his properties he owns and make him hire private security... I don't want to pay for police to protect his interests!!!
Big Boy January 22, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Catrips and Jon Watson hit the nail right on the head. Something has to be done. We cannot continue to have our children gunned down at school and citizens gunned down in movie theaters. As a society with or without your own personal child, these mass shootings in schools or elsewhere must stop. Putting a police officer in the schools may shorten the response time to the incident, but it will do nothing to solve the problem. I doubt gun control will either since there are so many guns out there already and the Sandy Hook shooting was done with guns purchased legally through our current gun laws in place. If we ban guns outright, ignore the second amendment, criminals will use different methods, car bombs.... Only law abiding citizens obey the laws. Mass shootings are generally performed by unlawful citizens. Laws don't matter to them and since many of them kill themselves, it complicates the issue even more. Chances are, we will never know why Sandy Hook happened. Why 26 lives were ended so soon. It is a complicated issue that requires complicated answers and probably no one answer will satisfy all of us. A Police officer in every school is one of many answers, but it fits right now. It helps parents feel better and children and teachers feel safer. What is wrong with that?
jim laguardia January 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Personally I support an SRO at each school, but I have noticed the SRO at jockey hollow has changed (from what I have seen) from just being an everyday part of the school day to now sitting at the from door area standing guard. I would like to see them as more part of the everyday environment than as a security guard. And I believe that NRA guy said they would be willing to fund something like this at his first press conference. Then again he did blame an inanimate "gun free school zone" sign for what happened.
QWERTY January 22, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Why do we need dedicated full-time positions for these jobs? Surely the town can find recently retired officers looking for some extra pay to do these jobs, no? Hiring 3 full time positions to do a job that only fills up 60% of a working year doesn't seem like an efficient idea. I obviously support the idea of increased security at schools but it needs to be realistic.
jim laguardia January 22, 2013 at 07:41 PM
there is no way to protect them 24/7 you would need someone on the bus at each bus stop etc... but just today there was another shooting... where... at a school during school hours, these are scary times and this is something to make going to school more safe
Mike Wallace January 22, 2013 at 07:45 PM
I'm familiar with the SRO's in Bridgeport. In addition to being fully trained police officers, they provide services to the schools that the police on patrol do not have the time to attend to. They really get to know the kids. Mike Wallace
anon January 22, 2013 at 08:49 PM
captrips, i truly appreciate and respect your reply
Monroe Mama January 22, 2013 at 08:51 PM
I would like to thank school officials and the Monroe PD for providing our children with officers since the shooting.. My son attends Fawn Hollow and these officers have gone above and beyond their job to make our kids feel safe.. Although my son has nice things to say about all the officers there is one in particular that stands out and becomes the topic of our dinner time conversation. Officer John McAuley, he is a true joy to these kids... He takes the time to give knuckle punches, high fives and even autographs to these elementary school children. That might not sound like too much but to my 10 year old who was very scared to go to school after the shooting it is a blessing. So a big thank you to John McAuley for really going above and beyond, you have made both my son and my husband and I feel much safer! Your kindness has not gone unnoticed.
jim laguardia January 22, 2013 at 08:55 PM
that is my feeling about the SRO at jockey hollow, my daughter saw her as part of the staff before last month now she seems to have to stand guard.... i am hoping there is a way to change back to the old way where they can blend in to the school
anon January 22, 2013 at 08:55 PM
thank you Qwerty ... i agree that option should be investigated
Rick Strong January 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM
The Monroe Courier is reporting that the public works director just resigned after working kess than 365 days in Monroe, not long after the P&Z head resigned, not long after the Parks director resigned, not long after the school superintendent resigned. Does anyone know why First Selectman can't keep department heads? It keeps the town in constant state of upheaval. And yes, we need police at the schools until it is deemed safer.
jim laguardia January 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM
The Monroe Courier?? what are you a Rockefeller? who can afford the newspaper now that they are raising our taxes to pay to protect those freeloading kids.....
Big Boy January 23, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Most parents, certainly I did, attend baseball, soccer, football games and feel more in control or responsible for their child while they are on the field playing. As a parent, you watch your child play and are able to react in such a situation with your child. After you put them on the bus they are out of your vision for some 8 hours a day. A little bit different. Although a police presence would be welcomed. At what age does an officer retire? Are they in a position to chase down and wrestle with a 20 year old assailant ? What type of officer do we want patrolling our schools and maintaining safety?
Schap January 23, 2013 at 02:57 AM
I believe a thoughtful discussion with different area's of the gov't of Monroe with citizens would or could be effective. The short time solution could be the additional offices, but with a review after a committee evaluates all alternatives. I will throw one out on the table for future consideration. If a member of the education area wanted to go and get proper training and was certified and was given a stipend for their long hours of training would the public be for or against having this so called "AIR MARSHAL" in our schools? I believe there are many answers to this problem, but no ONE person has the answer at this time. If it is added to the budget it should be a separate line item in the safety department that would be reviewed in the 2014 - 2015 budget.
jim laguardia January 23, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Sorry had to re-read this AFTER the other servile about the BoE et al.... Being thanked for the use and preparation of Chalk Hill. Good thing those folks Wes not at the meeting where Mr. Sippin asked "if Newtown moves out of this school, you won't need these officers, right?" They might have gotten the idea that some in Monroe want the to "move out" so we don't have to hire a few more police officers, at least let the paint smell go away before you make them feel like they are a burden on our town please.... Stay classy Mr. Sippin
Crown Royal January 23, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Here is the solution for everyone with a child in the school? How much would you personally pay? http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/1/21/mom_pays_for_armed_o.html And just for reference, having armed guards in a school does not stop these mass shootings. http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-there-be-more-armed-guards-in-schools/armed-law-enforcement-didnt-stop-columbine
jim laguardia January 23, 2013 at 02:38 PM
The point of living in a "community" is that we all pay for things the "community" needs or wants even if we get no use out of them.... Sort of like the senior center
D. Sickles January 23, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Keep drinking the crown royal. I guess you have no understanding of the term community. It's all about YOU and what YOU want.
Crown Royal January 23, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I actually have a great understanding of the term community, having lived here for nearly 25 years, I know what a great community this is. I don't believe parents should have to pay for the SRO's, because I do not think they are necessary. The spending of $160,000+ each year for 3 SRO salaries is pathetic and not needed. Bullet Proof glass and locked doors around the entrances would be a much cheaper alternative, than 25 years of these growing salaries, plus pensions for the rest of their lives. "The hiring of new officers would increase line items for salaries, uniforms and equipment. But Salvatore said the department is keeping older police cars longer, so any increase in that line item can be kept to a minimum." Do we just happen to have 3 police vehicles that are not being used that these SRO's will utilize? When I was in Masuk, the SRO drove a police cruiser. Your children in elementary school would not know the difference between a police officer and an armed security guard with a uniform. Regardless, anyone with 8 or 10 bullets in their magazine(Police or Security Guard) are not going to stop an attack from a high-powered semi-automatic rifle with 30+ bullets in the mag. Especially if the person wielding that rifle is deranged and wanting to die.
jim laguardia January 23, 2013 at 06:08 PM
LET'S SEE WHERE TO BEGIN?? 1)Because you have lived here longer you opinion counts more than others?? 2)The children are not stupid they know the difference between an officer and a security guard.3) the senior center and their its ours all ours attitude is pathetic, not paying to protect the children of our community like you claim 4) how would it affect home values to know that the town folks here voted against protecting the schools? Or that is the point you and your friends don't want families moving into town with all those free loading children
Crown Royal January 23, 2013 at 06:35 PM
1)Because you have lived here longer you opinion counts more than others?? I did not state that at all. In response to D. Sickles, I stated that since I have lived here close to 25 years, I do in fact, understand the term community. 2)The children are not stupid they know the difference between an officer and a security guard. I wouldn't call them stupid, I would just say that both are there to do the same job, yet one costs the town significantly less. 3) the senior center and their its ours all ours attitude is pathetic, not paying to protect the children of our community like you claim I never claimed to not protect the children. Additionally, I have never utilized the Senior Center and quite frankly I am a few years (20+) away from being allowed to. I do not agree with how that is run either and think it should be more of a community center rather than Senior Center. The Newtown shooter shot his way through glass into the school, by making that glass bullet proof, he would have had no way in. 4) how would it affect home values to know that the town folks here voted against protecting the schools? Or that is the point you and your friends don't want families moving into town with all those free loading children. I have no qualms against children or their families. It would not adversely affect home prices. We are not voting against protecting our schools we are voting to increase the police force. I simply think the money could be spent more wisely.
jim laguardia January 23, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Crown you sated "the spending of.... For 3 SRO salaries is pathetic and not needed" when you post something like the link you did and ask people with children in school how much are they personally pay? You have to understand you will get flack for that right? I am trying to be nice here so let's move on
Crown Royal January 23, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Yes, I do agree it may not have been in the best taste to state it like that. I was simply trying to link to a somewhat relevant article about another school district who was considering similar actions. I apologize if I offended anyone by trying to make them put a $ value on the price of security for their children.
James Wadsworth January 23, 2013 at 07:41 PM
@Crown Royal - my guess is that bullet proof windows may not be permitted due to fire code? You would have to look into that. Not sure if a rent-a-cop is a good idea. If an intruder gets inside a building an officer of the law is better trained to deal with the situation.
Michael Raimondi January 25, 2013 at 03:45 AM
hello all and am glad to see not everyone is sleeping with eyes wide open. I know its tempting to start an honest argument about costs,taxes, nepotism,etc but kudos to Chief Salvatore for doing his job, like trying to provide a secure place and not being naive,but if you think that 3xtra cops are not worth it, then move out of town. Also,if the police and town officials did nothing,the rants would be overblown, so how about some compromise,I certainly would feel better for the kids knowing there is extra police, we do after all live in a crazy world now and have to deal with it the best way possible..you can't put on price on anyone's life. So damn if you do,etc. How about entertaining the idea of private citizens like myself for instance, helping out with the security at the schools, it's called volunteers. My name is on the blog and I volunteer publicly to help to help watch the doors and god forbid worse case scenario to try and stop any fool with bad intentions..This would serve 2 sides of the argument,save money and beef up security..Of course there would have to be some type of formal training involved but am sure the police brass can figure something out..This is what community is supposed to be, helping out. I would think there are some semi-retired people that would help out. I await some productive ideas ,I put in my 2cents. and will back it up with my time to donate....
Crown Royal January 25, 2013 at 04:03 AM
Hey Michael, I love your idea. Unfortunately I do not think it will gain traction simply because you, in fact, are a volunteer. I am honestly not trying to offend, but why would the public trust you? No disrespect, but what is stopping you from harming students (unsure if your idea involves armed citizens) Unfortunately the world we live in probably wouldn't trust anyone unless they were sworn to 'serve and protect'. The fact is though, the pure odds of this happening again in a school anywhere near here are next to nil.
Mike Wallace January 25, 2013 at 05:41 PM
I hope we don't move to a world where we only trust people in uniform Everybody who works in a school should have a thorough background check. But even a trained police officer may be no match for an assailant who has the element of surprise, an assault weapon and maybe even body armor. The ammunition used in an assault weapon will penetrate the average police vest but the ammunition used in an officers handgun will most likely be caught by the assailants vest. After working in forensic mental health for many years, I think the real answer is prevention. This means identification of potentially dangerous people, a treatment plan that includes a risk plan and an understanding by the mental health treaters that our responsibily to public safety goes beyond imminent danger to self or others. Michael, I hope you will volunteer in another capacity and after a full background check.
anon January 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM
i learned bullet proof glass is insanely expensive and the kind of glass that would be needed to stop the weapon Lanza used would even be moreso ... i was told it would need to be approx. 3 inches thick
Michael Raimondi January 26, 2013 at 03:20 PM
thanks for the encouragement Crown&M.Wallace and of course any one volunteering for anything like this would have to submit to a check of whatever or from whatever,but can tell you this,when 9/11 happened, there was no time for checks and we(my crew) in heavy construction responded right away,before the 2nd tower went down in fact, that being said crown, why would I put myself in jeopardy?because I care,and publically state so, so why would I harm the "kids" or why would you even think that?? Doing what's right is hard to do,but, it's the right thing to do anyway.. As stated I am not a armchair quarterback, and say what I mean and mean what I say..Not to cut into anyones overtime, but a helping hand(with training etc) shouldn't be such an affront...Common sense should prevail...Anyway thanks for reading....
Mike Wallace January 26, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Thanks for your service Michael.

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