Monroe Police Chief John L. Salvatore said he hopes to have a school resource officer (SRO) stationed at each Monroe public school as a way to improve school security in the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting.
Masuk High School and Jockey Hollow Middle School already have SROs, and First Selectman Stephen J. Vavrek has included funding in his proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget for three more police officers to be stationed at the town’s three elementary schools — Fawn Hollow, Monroe El and Stepney El.
SROs are certified police officers who have received special training.
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy Dec. 14, police officers have been assigned to Monroe’s three elementary schools but it’s uncertain if that can continue indefinitely due to budget issues.
Chalk Hill assignments
Monroe police officers also have been helping out at the former Chalk Hill School, now the new Sandy Hook Elementary, and the town of Monroe expects that cost to be reimbursed by the town of Newtown, state government, or federal government due to the special circumstances.
“We’re anticipating reimbursement,” said Salvatore, in comments that echo those made by Vavrek on the issue.
A recent meeting took place with representatives from the offices of local federal legislators — two U.S. congressmen and a U.S. senator — and officials from Monroe and Newtown in an effort to possibly secure federal funds to pay for school security in the two towns.
Salvatore and Vavrek have said the two towns should get the outside assistance due to the unique circumstances of the shooting and its aftermath.
“Because of Chalk Hill, we have been uniquely impacted by this more than other communities,” Salvatore said of Monroe. “We are constantly reminded of that every day because we have Sandy Hook [Elementary] in our town.”
Salvatore said having the police in the schools — whether regular officers or trained SROs — makes more sense than hiring any kind of outside security. He said using private entities could raise liability issues for the town and school district. He also pointed out that SROs don’t just provide armed security.
“They do a lot more, such as interact with students, staff and parents,” he said. “They become part of the school community.”
SROs attempt to build strong relationships with others at the schools where they work. In the case of students, this can lead to youngsters turning to the officers for help when they learn about problems — such as threats, acts of vandalism, or potential suicidal situations.