At Monday’s joint meeting: School security, police officers are the topics

Funding for school security and two police officers, and an appropriation for police overtime, are on the agenda at a joint meeting of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance next Monday, Jan. 28. The meeting takes place at the Redding Community Center at 7:30.

The Redding Board of Education, which oversees the operation of the elementary and middle schools, will be making a presentation to the boards on its $135,000 funding request to beef up school security this fiscal year and for a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO), as well as “any additional needed [police] personnel.”

The school board proposes to enhance security through material steps to better secure the physical environment, protocol and procedure review accompanied by staff training, and coordination with the Redding Police Department.

The school board’s request for money for school security and police presence comes in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown. On Dec. 14, a gunman shot and killed  his mother and then went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he killed 20 children and six adults and then himself.

Even before the tragedy, police Chief Douglas Fuchs had planned to ask for two police officers in his budget for fiscal 2013-14  — one to bring the department to its full authorized complement of 16 and one to serve as a part-time SRO and part-time investigator.

With the school board’s request now on the table, the chief is asking for a full-time SRO, which would be the new position, with the authorized position now becoming a part-time youth officer and part-time investigator. This request is for the two officer posts to be funded for four months, until the end of this fiscal year. The officers would still be included as part of the Police Department’s requested budget for fiscal 2013-14.

An SRO would be at only one building or between the two but would not be a constant presence at both schools, Chief Fuchs said at the selectmen’s Jan. 14 meeting. He added that an SRO would not provide presence at Barlow or private schools.

The only way to do that, he said, is to bring the 16th officer on board. This officer would be trained to deal with kids on all levels, serving as a youth officer.

The Police Department has 16 authorized officers, but several years ago, when the economy soured, the chief was directed not to fill the position, which he has asked for every year since.

A presentation will be made at the meeting about the SRO position  — the job, the training, etc.

Also on the meeting’s agenda is a request for an appropriation to cover the overtime incurred this fiscal year by having a police presence in the schools — one at each school — as well as the voluntary assistance by local police in Newtown, which has also resulted in overtime pay.

The amount of money for the police overtime, as well as the cost of providing two officers through the end of the fiscal year, will be provided at the joint meeting. If the finance board approves these appropriations and the amount requested for school security, then the appropriation requests will be sent to a town meeting next month.

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