At Masuk High: Search on for new armed security officer

The search continues for an armed school security officer for Masuk High School.

Only a couple weeks after Redding Police Capt. Mark O’Donnell announced his retirement from that post to assume the armed school security officer position at Masuk High School, O’Donnell shifted gears and accepted the position as interim Redding police chief, meaning local school administrators have to go back to the drawing board.

“Mr. O’Donnell is no longer going to be the (armed school security officer) at Masuk,” said newly appointed school Superintendent Dr. Jack Zamary, adding that this one position is all that needs to be filled. “The high school administration is currently conducting another search.”

In March, the Board of Education and school administration announced that, beginning with the 2018-19 school year, each Monroe school will have either a school resource officer (SRO) or an armed school security officer. The Board of Education then approved the armed school security officer job description and announced the impending hire of a retired longtime Monroe police officer to fill that role. Then, after hearing concerns voiced by parents, town officials announced that a second armed school security officer would be hired this summer and will be ready for the coming school year.

When this announcement was made in March, there were four SROs — police officers specifically trained to interact with and teach students — with one of these individuals floating between Monroe Elementary and Stepney Elementary. But school officials then learned that one of the SROs — an active duty military — was to be deployed in April and not return for one year. Then-school Superintendent John Battista had only just begun looking into armed school security officers as an option when word of the deployment was released. Since it takes one year to train a police officer to be an SRO, Battista said, he and the Board of Education agreed that the hiring of an armed school security officer needed to be accelerated. With that armed school security officer hire, there would be three SROs and an armed school security officer for the four schools, with someone deployed between Monroe and Stepney elementary schools.

It was at that point that parents voiced concerns that each school was not covered every minute of the school day. That prompted First Selectman Ken Kellogg and Battista to jointly announce in late March that an armed school security officer would be hired in the coming months, and that that individual would allow all five schools to be covered at all times during the school day.

“I have identified a way for this to be cost-neutral in the coming year’s budget,” said Kellogg at the time.

Once the current SRO who has been deployed returns to town, school officials state that the second armed school security officer would be let go, since each school would then continue to have coverage by either an SRO or an armed school security officer .


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