Why small Connecticut towns are embracing armed security in schools

EAST HAMPTON – When the Board of Education this week approved adding armed security officers to some of its schools, it mirrored similar efforts to beef up security made by school officials in recent months.

Since the deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May, schools across the state have scrambled to beef up security and prevent a similar tragedy from tearing their communities apart. One of the most popular and controversial strategies has been the implementation of armed security.

A pattern has emerged amid the school security resurgence: Many of those that have recently approved or are considering armed security mostly operate in sleepy, quaint towns that, until now, have not introduced firearms into their facilities.

This trend has come as many small schools rush to enact policies that some larger urban schools have been incorporating for several years. School officials say the overall reason for their rush is an intense desire to protect their communities from another deadly shooting.

Cities in the area, similar measures

This summer, at least seven other school districts besides East Hampton have approved adding armed security guards: Montville, Stamford, Killingly, New Milford Regional School District 15 (Middlebury-Southbury), RSD 16 (Prospect-Beacon Falls) and RSD 18 (Lyme-Old Lyme). All but one of these districts are made up of cities whose total population is less than 25,000, according to the most recent census data.

Both Marlborough and Brookfield Public Schools are publicly weighing the issue of armed security. In Marlborough, a safety team is considering adding a school resource officer along with other measures, Superintendent Dr. Holly Hageman said.

SROs are law enforcement officers who work for the local police department, while armed security officers, or ASOs, are usually retired police officers or state troopers.

The Marlborough Schools Safety Team will make recommendations to the Marlborough Board of Education at its August or September meeting, Hageman said.

The Brookfield Selection Board recently supported plans put police officers in elementary schools and hire armed officers. This proposal will now go to a municipal vote.

According to census data, these two cities had a population of less than 18,000.

‘Protecting children’

East Hampton has employed an armed security officer at its high school since 2019. But yes recent decision to implement armed security at two elementary schools and one middle school was a “direct response” to the Uvalde shooting, Superintendent Paul K. Smith said.

“What affected our city to really consider (armed security) was the shooting at Robb Elementary School,” Smith said this week.

“I think because it was an elementary school, similar to Sandy Hook (elementary school), it was like, ‘Oh my God, our elementary kids are targets.’ “, added.

In addition to armed security, schools are also adding mental health counselors and establishing an in-school mental health center to better serve students, Smith said.

“We like to feel like we’re a safe town, but incidents like this make you realize that no town is safe,” he said.

In June, the RSD 18 Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education approved adding armed security officers to all campuses in the district for the upcoming school year.

RSD 18 President of the Education Council Steven Wilson said this decision was “simply about having some way to protect children”. The board also considered how having an armed officer on school property would reduce the amount of time it takes to engage a shooter compared to how police typically respond during an incident.

“It was argued that it can take up to 20 minutes to get to the school site,” Wilson said. “It’s a small town, but we don’t have many police officers on our force.”

Middletown and Cromwell schools, the two largest municipalities in Middlesex County, have employed school resource officers for several years, officials said.

The area’s third-largest municipality, Portland, has an unarmed security guard stationed at one of its schools, Superintendent Dr. Charles Britton.

“One of the reasons we haven’t felt the same level of compulsion (for armed security) potentially in Portland is because … we have an incredibly close relationship with the police department,” Britton said. “They go to our schools every day.”

Portland school officials have discussed hiring a school resource officer, Britton said, but determined that “we don’t know if that’s necessary, just because we’re very fortunate that the response times and the police presence whatever things we don’t have. a problem with.”

Small towns most affected

The shooting at the school in Uvalde, a community of about 16,000, according to census data, rekindled a debate about why smaller communities are repeatedly affected by these types of mass casualty incidents.

Of the 10 deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, seven have occurred in cities with fewer than 45,000 residents, according to census data.

There could be multiple explanations why mass school shootings seem to happen more often in smaller cities, and unfortunately, research on the topic is limited, one mental health expert said.

One reason could be that there are a disproportionate number of urban school districts compared to rural school districts across the country, making it more likely that a mass shooting will occur at a small-town school, Sandra M. Chafouleas, a teacher in educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, he wrote in an email.

However, a critical piece to preventing school violence is ensuring that “every student is socially connected and has the appropriate emotional and behavioral supports to feel safe and secure,” Chafouleas said.

A 2002 study unpacking the issue behind deadly school shootings in rural communities found that urban communities may have fewer resources to deal with violence because these types of incidents occur more frequently in that setting compared to rural communities.

“Youth violence has been a problem in urban communities for many years, which has likely resulted in increased funding for programming, the implementation of violence intervention programs, and tighter security in many schools urban areas”, concludes the study.

‘What if it happens here?’

East Hampton resident Daniel Finn said he constantly worries about his children’s safety while at school, in part because of the cycle of deadly school shootings in rural communities.

I have this constant fear when I send my kids to school (this), what if it happens here? Finn said. “It happens all the time in small towns, what if it happens here?”


Source link

You May Also Like

About the Author: SteveSossin

Welcome! I keep up on all the latest cbd and thc news!