Jul 29, 2014

Greenwich Considering Armed Guards at Public Schools

Town, school officials continue review of security in wake of Newtown, CT, school shootings.

Greenwich Considering Armed Guards at Public Schools

The placement of armed security guards at Greenwich (CT) Public Schools is one of the options school and town officials are considering in the wake of last month's shooting massacre in Newtown in which 26 students and educators were killed.

In a letter to parents, Greenwich School Superintendent William McKersie wrote, "I continue to receive emails from parents and staff with suggestions for increased security, especially in regards to the merits of armed security guards at each school. (As many know, the Stamford Public Schools just added
unarmed security guards at every elementary school.)"

McKersie continued, "Adding armed guards at all schools, which some parents
have advocated, is a complicated step that presents many pros and cons, and may ultimately have minimal effects in the type of tragedies in Newtown and Columbine. Nevertheless, we will consider the option as we review our safety and security procedures relative to best practices in Connecticut and nationally."

Until a decision is made, McKersie said the Greenwich Police Department will continue to provide increased patrols in both marked and unmarked police vehicles in upcoming weeks. And fire and school lockdown drills previously scheduled for  mid-December have yet to be rescheduled.

In the days following the Newtown shootings, McKersie, Board of Education Chair Leslie Moriarty, First Selectman Peter Tesei and Police Chief James Heavey met to review school security. At the time Tesei said whether to assign School Resource Officers—uniformed Greenwich Police officers—to all public schools probably was not an option. Greenwich High School has one school resource officer who also is responsibile for the three middle schools as well.

However, security procedures and access to all schools is under scrutiny, officials have said.

One town official, Selectman Drew Marzullo is opposed to armed school security officers.

In a letter to Moriarty and McKersie, Marzullo wrote, "While we can all agree that now is the time for a serious review of school safety, a needlessly reactionary response to a horrific crime does not make our town or our schoolchildren any safer. Instead, we should examine the current areas of weakness in our school safety plans, and use protocols, empirical evidence, and common sense to address those security gaps."

Marzullo also said, "Floating the idea of armed security guards in Greenwich schools should be taken off the table now, and should not be part of the discourse that follows from the Sandy Hook tragedy. This should not be a public policy debate."

He added, "It is our job, as town government officials, to provide them with that security. However, introducing guns into their buildings, especially in the hands of non-law enforcement professionals, is essentially creating more opportunities for violence."

(To read Marzullo's full letter, please see the PDF at right.)

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