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Sandy Hook Tragedy Spurs Request for New Police Officers

Chief John Salvatore is requesting three new officers and two full-time dispatchers.

The First Selectman's Budget proposal for 2013-14 includes just over $5 million for the Monroe Police Department, a $367,945 increase. This story focuses on the main driver, personnel.

The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought out parents' worst fears and demand for higher security in schools is at an all time. It is in this atmosphere that Monroe is allowing Newtown to use the Chalk Hill building as a school. Monroe police officers provide security there, keeping out journalists and onlookers, as well as maintaining a presence at the town's own schools.

Monroe parents joined the nationwide push for safer schools, leading to calls for improvements such as sallyports with buzz-in systems, better surveillance cameras and procedures ... and more police officers.

Monroe currently has a school resource officer (SRO) at Masuk High School and Jockey Hollow Middle School. Due to increased community demand, Chief John Salvatore is asking for three new officers for the town's elementary schools.

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The three officers would add $139,725 in salaries and $8,800 worth of equipment to the operating budget.

"As a result of the Sandy Hook incident, policing has changed in this area," Salvatore told Town Council members during a budget workshop Wednesday night. "We're expected to create a sense of security at these schools, but don't have the resources."

In addition to having officers in Monroe's five schools, Salvatore has two more stationed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Fan Hill Road and has had to use overtime to pay for it all.

"The U.S. Justice Department is a potential funding source," Salvatore said, adding his hope that Monroe's unique situation of taking in and securing Sandy Hook Elementary School will be considered when it requests reimbursement money.

New Dispatchers

The police department's budget also asks for $78,550 to hire two new full-time dispatchers to enhance the morning and evening shifts with two working at the same time during peak hours.

"For the most part, we have one dispatcher in that building," Salvatore said. "It can get extremely busy for a dispatcher. If something like Newtown happened in our town with one dispatcher, that dispatcher probably would be overwhelmed with people on the phone calling for help in other jurisdictions."

The chief also pointed out that more cameras at the schools mean more monitors for dispatchers to watch. "We need capable eyes to be on these monitors when we need them," he said.

Capt. Michael Flick said the job has changed. For instance, a car accident that would have led to two phone calls years ago, results in "multiple calls" because people have cell phones. He added that dispatchers need to be highly trained to handle the job.

Big Boy February 14, 2013 at 10:52 AM
The Police Department should have all it needs to keep the town and its people safe.
Richard Orr February 14, 2013 at 01:36 PM
According to the news-- "Monroe has had a police presence at every school in town since the Sandy Hook tragedy and has worked with Supt. of Schools James Agostine on ways to improve school security." Just what are these trained Police Officers doing during their assignment? Apparently, the officers at the Sandy Hill Elementary and Jockey Hill school entrance spend their time sitting in the patrol car -- Doing what ? Yes,this overreacting !
Non-Fiction February 14, 2013 at 02:21 PM
It's my understanding they are keeping away people who should not be there like reporters and other onlookers. They are also there to keep the children, staff, and parents feel safe. Get with the times Mr. Orr. Your comment suggests you are poorly informed and self-centered.
Crown Royal February 14, 2013 at 02:42 PM
As stated in a previous thread regarding this very topic, it is asinine the idea that we should have a police officer assigned to each school. Are we really implying that because there is a group of 300 people in the same building we should require a police officer to be there? I work in an office building with thousands of people and we do not even have a security guard. Having these police officers 'stationed' at these school will not make them any safer because the officers get complacent and it just becomes part of their routine. Pretty soon they will just be sitting at their desks, reading and commenting on websites like this one. Columbine had 2 armed police officers and they did nothing to stop them from killing the rest of the kids.
jim laguardia February 14, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Yes richard they are just "sitting" there doing nothing.... or wait they are protecting our kids.... and David please try to reconsider "asinine" statement
jim laguardia February 14, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Oh sorry I meant Crown Royal, not David...... my mistake
I am paying attention February 14, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Just as a police officer at an intersection will deter and force people to stop for a stop sign (usually) this will help deter bad and/or nosy people from coming to the schools.
Crown Royal February 14, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Jim, excuse me for the asinine comment. I just do not see the justification of spending this money on full-time officers the town does not need. Furthermore, these officers only work half the year. If you do the math, our town cannot afford this. Assuming a standard 3% raise each year, these officers will be earning close to 95k base salary each in 25 years. Then they retire and if the Monroe Police department is anything like the Connecticut State Police, they get a pension of 50% of their top 5 years. Since they are only working 180 days a year at the school, they have plenty of opportunities to pick up all of those overtime shifts during their highest wage years which could easily drive their yearly pension upwards of 60k a year for the rest of their lives. If we are talking about hiring 3 new officers straight out of the academy, this could easily mean another 40 years of that. You are basically talking about a $12.5 million dollar investment.
jim laguardia February 14, 2013 at 03:41 PM
First of all I am pretty sure they will work a full year, officers unions would not allow these officers to be treated differently I don't think . I am pretty sure theyh don't get snow days off etc... secondly if you work in a buildingg with that many people it SHOULD have a guard of some sort.
Barney February 14, 2013 at 04:08 PM
We aint be needing this service because I didn't have it when I be in school and that means we aint need it now. This farming community is being taken over by these interlopers. Interlopers always be wanting our taxes to go up. These interlopers move into my town, raise my taxes, and then they be moving away. People who be born and raised here be knowing what be best for Monroe.
Todd Keeping February 14, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Holy cow Barney where did you go to school. I would definitely take your opinion over all you sound so smart. And as for the two idiots, thier statements speak for themselves. Fools make stupid comments while the rest of us take action. I have seen what the cops do for the staff and the children and its far from complacent. They are police officers not second rate security guards show some respect.
QWERTY February 14, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Again, why isn't the town looking for retired police officers to do this job? I also think it impractical to have a police presence at every elementary school, every school day. Create a team of 2-4 retired police officers and have them rotate on a daily, hourly, whatever basis. I do believe a full police presence should be had for all school openings and closing. Have the police on duty perform this task along with the team of retired officers.
QWERTY February 14, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Actually in 7-8 years those 3 salaries grow to $195,504 based on LAST year's contract. I'm not against additional police but in my opinion the department has to show a need for these additional 3 officers irrespective of the school monitoring duty. If the department gets by with the current force number, I don't see how adding $200K in salary is justified.
Crown Royal February 14, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I like all of those ideas a lot QWERTY.
Crown Royal February 14, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I was not implying they are complacent now, but once you get into a routine, not matter if you are a police officer or a grocery store clerk, you become comfortable. Do we really need 6 detectives on the Monroe Force? Maybe we could send them to the schools to protect the students. Then, when a crime occurs that requires 'investigating' we can utilize overtime to temporarily staff the school. This seems like a much more cost efficient option.
Steve Kirsch February 14, 2013 at 09:52 PM
It really would be nice if all of you people would come to the budget workshop and listen to what the Chief had to say. You would also have had the chance to ask your own questions of the Chief, just as I did last night. You would also have heard the questions from the Council and all the answers. More is going on than you can know from reading an article.
Crown Royal February 14, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Steve, I realize there is another meeting tonight which I unfortunately cannot make. Do you know when the next one will be after today? Thanks
Wolfe February 15, 2013 at 01:38 AM
Jim, I never had the screen name of "Crown Royal". Also, I think that Crown Royal is wrong for writing for he/she wrote.
jim laguardia February 15, 2013 at 02:56 AM
No sorry was a mistake
Big Boy February 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM
It would be "really nice" if these important meeting were not held on a holiday when many of the towns people are out celebrating, hopefully at local establishments, and not at the local police department. Providing more security presence for children, very young children, when an event like Sandy Hook occurs so close by is in no way " asinine" or "overreacting ". I do not know what age category a "retired" police officer falls into, but if they are fit enough and can stay awake and on their feet alert and ready to run down a young 20 year old intruder then hire them on a part time basis. Any building with a large number of people in it need some sort of security be it an officer or some sort of electronic security system.
Rt25 February 15, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Has any thought been given to hiring a private security firm to guard and patrol the schools? No benefits, no sicktime, no overtime, no pension, no 401K etc etc.
Crown Royal February 15, 2013 at 02:14 PM
I am by no means trying to diminish or take away the fact that 20 students died in Sandy Hook, however that was an anomaly. If you look at the statistics gathered by the CDC on School-Associated Violent Death, it shows the majority of these deaths occur in the middle/high school level, with the median age falling in at 15 years old. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5702a1.htm) "Rates of school-associated student homicides decreased between 1992 and 2006. However, they have remained relatively stable in recent years. Rates were significantly higher for males, students in secondary schools, and students in central cities." We have adequately prepared for the majority of these situations by already having SROs in the 2 places these attacks are likely to take place (Masuk and JH) Lock the doors, spend the 300k from the BOE budget in 'Security Improvements' removing the glass from around those doors and you have solved the problem There is no reason to hire 3 full-time police officers to sit in these schools and do nothing all day except make you 'feel good'.
Wolfe February 15, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Barney, I have a question for you. What is in your pipe? Judging from your poor use of the English language, I know that it certainly is not regular tobacco.
QWERTY February 15, 2013 at 05:13 PM
I agree, building improvements should be first priority. For the most part they are one-time costs and provide immediate and active security.
Wolfe February 15, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Crown Royal, what do you think we need in a town of 30,000 people? Tell me and everyone else on here. In fact, contact Bill Bittar, the editor of the Monroe Patch, and have him interview you, since you think that your views hold so much MORE weight than everybody elses' opinions. I am of the mind that we NEED a police presence at all of the schools, to allay each and every parent's fear of a possible shooter entering the school and killing his/her child. Since almost half of the homes in town are owned by people with children who go to these schools, maybe the tax burden should fall solely on them?? Is that your thinking? What about the EMS and Fire departments? Who will pay for them? You, Crown Royal? Or should it be EVERYONE?? Which is it?? I WANT AN ANSWER!!!!
Crown Royal February 15, 2013 at 07:46 PM
According to the 2010 Census there were 19,247 people residing in Monroe. There were 6,481 households out of which 42.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them. Wolfe, I never said my views carry more weight than every other person on this website. My views are just backed by facts instead of emotional opinions following a tragedy. Since you work for the school bus company, do you feel there should be an armed guard on every school bus, to prevent situations like the one from Alabama? Unfortunately in regards to the unnecessary police officers, if the town votes to pass the budget, I will be forced to share the tax burden with the rest of my fellow citizens. You are acting like I do not want to have a police department in this town and that is furthest from the truth. The police department was more than adequate on December 11th. It is simply because of your emotions that you suddenly feel the amount of officers in this town is inadequate.
Schap February 16, 2013 at 04:16 AM
Next meeting Tuesday feb 19 @ 7
BIGANT February 17, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Wolfe and Arnold, I have a question for you. Aren't you guys sharp enough to see that Barney is deliberately using poor English to create an effect. You fell into his trap and resorted to insults. Shame on you. While I don't agree with him I believe he has a right to his opinion.

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