[OPINION] Don Bergmann: “Police In Schools Is A Mistake”

Alert “06880” reader Don Bergmann writes:

Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook School Elementary School, Westport undertook and paid for many school security actions.

One first step was to hire the Kroll security firm to generate a school security report. No member of the public, no members of the RTM and, I believe, no member of the Board of Finance was permitted to read the Kroll report.

Well in advance of the report, the issue of police in our schools was raised and discussed.  Then-superintendent of schools Elliott Landon made it clear that he did not support police in our schools.

I believe that judgment was supported by the then-Board of Education, and most in Westport. I believe that judgment evidenced a conclusion that the presence of police in our schools sent the wrong message, and was inconsistent with the function and spirit of education. My recollection is that the idea of police in our schools was viewed as something that had no home in places of learning, youthful interaction and openness.

Our present superintendent of schools, Dr. Colleen Palmer, may be proposing to assign, possibly even hire, 5 police to protect, may I say “guard,” our students while in school. I believe the Board of Education may support Dr. Palmer.

I believe this proposal is an unfortunate reaction to contemporary events. It comes about in part, if not primarily, because of the assertions of parents of students that “we must do something,” and the willingness of the school administration to respond to such cries for action by introducing a police presence into our schools.

I believe an ongoing police presence in our schools is a mistake. I believe it conveys a new and troubling feel to our schools, to education and to the interactions of all who are present in our schools: students, teachers, administrators, nurses,  cafeteria workers, and all others who contribute to the effective and joyous functioning of our schools.

Dr. Landon concluded that there should be no police patrolling our schools. Dr. Palmer appears to have concluded otherwise. The Board of Ed will have to make the initial decision, though roles for the Board of Finance, the RTM and maybe the Board of Selectmen are almost certain.

It is also important that the Kroll report be re-read. It would also seem sensible for the RTM and other elected officials to have access to the report, at least as to the issue of police in our schools. That particular aspect of the Kroll Report should probably also be available to the public.

In making a decision, I believe the input of our nearly 1,000 school employees is relevant. I also believe the voices of our students should be heard. In all cases, those voices must not be allowed to be pressured into silence by the actions and words of those who are so fearful for their children they do not welcome dialogue.

My concern is not cost, even though the cost for 5 police in our schools is significant. Even without new hires, but rather redeployments, the cost is significant since officers will be taken from present areas of responsibility.

The present thinking  appears not to include the cost of 5 police in the proposed school budget for 2018-19. I believe that approach would be wrong.

This letter (somewhat longer) was addressed to the school administration and the Board of Education. However, I ask others to weigh in. The views of the RTM, Board of Finance — indeed, of all elected officials and citizens — are important.

52 responses to “[OPINION] Don Bergmann: “Police In Schools Is A Mistake”

  1. Joseph Robert Signorile

    i think your out of touch here…our airports changed forever after 9/11 and now its time for schools to change…the crazy people arent going to stop for us

  2. Roberta tager

    Something is amiss in our schools!
    First… kids cannot show emotion when protesting school shootings?
    Second…armed guards in our schools?
    How come?

  3. Arline Gertzoff

    Yes to a security officer trained to use a firearm if necessary but no way to full-time police officers. Locked bullet proof doors and scan in visitors .Police officers in uniform send the wrong message to school children It is telling especially small children that the school is not a safe place A plain clothes Security officer is a far better alternative

    • When I was a kid, seeing the Police never meant danger. In fact, it meant the opposite. Saying it sends the wrong message insults every officer, and his or her children. Maybe that’s what you think when you see a cop. So sorry for you.

  4. There is much data to support the efficacy of SROs in schools (this is what Dr. Palmer is advocating). If I’m not mistaken, the recent shooting in Maryland was actually stopped by an SRO – lives were saved. Nobody is advocating a police state environment – rather, SROs become a part of the school community, someone the kids go to with problems and someone who is on the lookout for the signs that a child is becoming islolated, or showing signs of danger. I have heard Dr. Palmer speak on this topic several times, and I am in favor of the plan.

  5. Mr. Bergmann,
    Respectfully, you have the right to your opinion, no matter how misguided, and out of touch it is with reality. What EXACTLY would you say to the parents of the 12 year old male student, clinging to life today? Or, to the parents of the 16 year old girl nearly dead today? Do you think they would be better off today if Officer Gaskill wasn’t there, or waited outside?
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/20/us/great-mills-high-school-shooting/index.html
    Do you know what an SRO does? Is there value to community Policing? https://cops.usdoj.gov/Default.asp?Item=2687

  6. Thanks Don for this sensible view.

  7. Phillip Perri

    It’s interesting how people accuse the Superintendent and the supporters of the SRO program as rushing to judgement and knee-jerk reactions to recent current events when it actually is their own lack of information and knee-jerk reactions based on false assumptions. People who have taken the time to inform themselves of the issue realize that Dr. Palmer had recommended the SRO program long before the Florida shootings and NOT as a security measure only. She had very positive relationships with SROs in her other schools. If you had attended the BOE meeting or the recent public information session you would understand what the SRO program actually is and the wealth of benefit it brings to the schools. Ask the school staff? Dr. Palmer, a representative group of the school administration, including the principal of Staples, the police dept. and the fire dept. all attended a pre-Florida-scheduled visit to Ridgefield to assess their SRO program. Every person was vocal in their praise for the program and its potential benefit in our schools. They reported that Ridgefield had actually lost funding a few years back for the program so it was discontinued. The result? They couldn’t act fast enough to get it back. They said if it took making any cuts necessary they would NOT go without the SRO program ever again. Have an armed rent-a-cop instead of a fully trained Westport police officer at our schools? That’s so absurd it doesn’t require a response. BTW, part of the main point is having a visible presence as a deterrent, plainclothes doesn’t cut it. Ask the staff and children in Maryland if they’re glad they had a fully trained (former SWAT officer) as an SRO the other day at their school. As their principal said, “all of you out there that think this can’t happen at your school are just kidding yourselves.”

    At the recent public information session, not one person was opposed to the SRO program, as a matter of fact they were vocally supportive and only were concerned about how long it would take. Dr. Palmer is recommending 5 SROs, the entire audience shouted that they wanted one in each of our schools. Interestingly enough most in attendance were women and, I am sure, all were Mothers.

    It is so obvious by the comments above that no one has bothered to get the facts and then make their decision on this issue. Please educate yourselves and then feel free to make your points. Many people came to the BOE meeting prepared to speak against the program for these same reasons. After they understood the program not one spoke against it and those that did admitted their opinions were changed and supported the initiative. For the safety of our children, not just from firearms but drugs, alcohol, mental health intervention, mentoring, relationship-building, etc. please find out the facts.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      I believe most, if not all the safety officers currently in our schools are former uniformed officers. Certainly not “rent-a-cop” caliber.

      • Phillip Perri

        I’ve been in and around Staples a lot for 4 years and just last Thursday was the FIRST time I saw one of the security guards in a car riding around the school. I’ve walked into the school through many of the doors, been let in by students and followed faculty in, walked the halls without being stopped and asked anything, even though no one knows me and those who do know me can attest that I certainly can’t be missed. Our schools are a disaster waiting to happen and I am not about to leave the safety of my 2 kids to an unarmed, untrained, retired former police officer or security guard. I’ll take the fully trained Westport Police officer who is trained to mitigate trouble, intervene in all areas of school life to identify potential problems BEFORE they get out of hand and works in lockstep with the school staff and students in a trusted relationship. Thanks.

  8. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Bergmann. If we have an SRO, then I believe that such SRO must report to the police department and come under that budget. You report to who pays you.
    It is my understanding that both our Police Chief and our Superintendent believe that the SRO should be a Westport police officer. That makes abundant sense: to be most effective, in the event of a dangerous situation, the SRO would have to be trained by, and coordinate with, the Westport Police, in order to ensure a coordinated police response.
    On the issue of a police response to end an act of violence under way at the high school, our police department is where the expertise lies for that police response. Therefore, the SRO should report to the Chief of Police.

    I am in favor of one SRO at the high school, who is already a Westport police officer, not a new hire — and certainly not 5 new hires at this time. After a year evaluating how it works at the h.s. level, we can consider whether the program should be expanded. But note well that a 5-officer-hire expansion would entail tens of millions of dollars over the life of the police hires for our Town at a time that we are facing severe fiscal pressures. So a “new hire” decision (as opposed to assigning officers we already have) is to be taken very cautiously, after reviewing the test program at the high school level, for a year.

  9. Jonathan Berg

    +1

  10. Andrea Feldman

    I also respectfully disagree. The report you are referencing was done around 2013? unfortunately, things have changed since then. The federal administration has changed, sentiments in the country have changed, more hatred has brewed, more school shootings have happened and nothing has been done about them. To stick our heads in the sand and not make changes, is to deny and ignore that the environment around us is changing. When Sept 11 happened, security measures changed to keep up with the changing threats and times. Same situation here. Evolve or die….

    Did you attend, or watch the BOE meeting where Dr. Palmer and the Westport Police described their site visit to Ridgefield and discussed all of the positives that having an SRO in the school community has offered? The SRO program described in that meeting did not sound like the scary police presence you describe and condemn in your letter. What I heard were the many benefits, that go far beyond just having someone armed in the schools. There was discussion about the relationship these officers build with the kids, the trust these officers gain from both kids and parents, the different types of intervention – for drugs, alcohol, parties, bullying, mental health – just to name a few, that they are able to provide. They fill a space that school administrators and regular police officers cannot. These relationships of trust lead to another person knowing our kids, watching out for their wellbeing, and being a partner with the parents and administrators who only want our kids to be healthy and happy. It was most interesting to note that when Ridgefield had budget cuts and initially cut out the program, they then added it back and said they would NEVER again cut the program – budget cuts would have to be taken from elsewhere. If you have not listened to this meeting, please go on the BOE website and listen to it.

    Additionally, you bring up that school employees and kids should have a say. I would bet that most of them would be in favor of more protection rather than less. Our kids are scared, and they have a right to be, and the adults need to show them that their security is being taken seriously. How can kids learn if they are in an environment that makes them anxious? A friend of mine’s 9 year old daughter told her this morning, after hearing the news of the MD shooting, that “there was another school shooting and I’m scared to go to school”. Her mother is scared for her to go to school too. Is that the kind of learning environment we want for our kids? You said that “police had no home in places of learning, youthful interaction and openness.” Well, if our kids are too anxious to feel comfortable in school, then I disagree. We should do everything possible to help them feel safer. I’m sure the kids and staff in MD were sure happy that their SRO was there. My younger son’s pre-school has the equivalent of an SRO and the kids adore him and he cares for our kids. Someone who cares for our kids, builds a relationship with them, and is better equipped to protect them in the case of an emergency – sounds like a good idea to me.

    Dr. Palmer recommended this step to the BOE long before the FL shooting, so this is not a knee-jerk reaction. Unfortunately because of all the political nonsense that goes on trying to get things done here, the FL shooting has brought it more to light, but she asked for this program before this school year even began.

    Please again, if you have not already done so, learn more about the program before you start bashing it to the town and encouraging elected officials to turn their backs on it.

  11. Adam Vengrow

    This is nothing more than a useless opinion. Our westport police are awesome and would not be just a presence for safety. They woukd be drug deterrants and a source of confidence added that detracts nothing and doesnt scare anyone. Why do we have touch a truck events in town with firemen and all elementary schools spend a day at the police station. Kids in inner cities grow up in danger just getting to school. If my children feel a little uneasy in this beautiful and lucky/fortunate town they have the privilege growing up in, because an officer is at school, well guess what they can grow up a little! There is no substitute for more safety and being smart. The world has changed thus changes need to be made. It is why there is all the debate around weapons because the constitution was written with muskets for weapons. Id we dont adapt to changes, we lose to those abusing freedoms.

  12. Tom Feeley Sr

    If you REALLY want to protect something or someone, you post an armed guard [Police Person] at the site you want protected. There is no other quick solution.
    Waiting for a SWAT team to arrive is FUBAR. The students will be less traumatized by the uniformed officer every day than seeing friends shot and nobody around to engage the shooter.
    The Superintendent and Police Chief know how to protect the students. Let them do it.

  13. Keith Ashton

    Not to dog-pile here, just want to express my views as both a Westport resident, a father of two Staples HS students, and someone who has had the good fortune to live in dozens of towns and communities across our amazing country.

    The presence of a police officer (vs security guard) can have value far beyond that of providing an on-site response to a would-be ‘shooter’ which could save lives. The presence of a police officer has a deterrent effect for a wide range of risks and illegal behavior we would all like to see reduced, including drugs and alcohol use. An officer who works within a school, who gets to know the students and builds rapport, can have a very positive impact in many other ways including educating and raising awareness among teenagers about risks they face, and strategies for managing them. Community engagement and integration with law enforcement is of tremendous value on its face… and is the best antidote to the poisonous us-vs-them perspective that increasing numbers of folks have sadly and erroneously adopted toward law enforcement.

    Finally, should violence of *any kind* appear in our schools I want my kids to know that someone who has taken an oath to protect and serve is on the job, right there with them when each second counts; someone who is professionally trained to confront a threat; someone who is able to help and to communicate instantly with the other heroes serving in our community.

  14. Nancy Hunter

    I seem to remember Staples had a Westport police officer in the late ’70’s, named Steve. Full or part time, employed or volunteer I can’t recall, but he seemed like a great guy who was genuinely interested in our welfare.
    I believe he acted as a resource officer, more to do with alcohol / drug deterrence and other common teenage problems than the possibility of gun violence at the school. Times have changed, indeed.

  15. Susan Iseman

    I went to Catholic school- no one messed with those nuns! Those were simpler times- all we had to worry about was being attacked by Russia, and we had civil defense drills. All kidding aside, it’s a shame we have to resort to having armed guards. If someone gets shot accidentally, who is responsible?

    • Adam Vengrow

      What do you mean if somebody gets shot accidentally? We arent asking for target practice or a gun range in the schools. Its probably the same likelihood as if first responders arrived to a school shooting and started shooting back but 10 minutes but after the criminal started. Do you not go to a bank, airport, jewelry store, town hall, or train station for fear of getting accidentally shot by an officer?

  16. don l bergmann

    I of course welcome all of the comments, as I am sure are the people who will vote on and approve all five officers or a lesser number, most likely one or two, or believe this will not be a good use of funds or desirable as re-deployments.. I also thought most comments so far are very sound. My only negative reaction is to the use of pejorative characterizations of what I expressed with words or suggestions that at least I do not believe are consistent with what I actually wrote. Also, I was long aware of Dr. Palmer’s interest in Security Resource Officers since I watch many BoE meetings and engage with many officials and people in Westport on a wide range of issues. That includes Chief Koskinas and other police personnel. I do my homework as to what is going on in Westport, but have not done independent research on the benefits or detriments of a police presence in our schools. It is so nice to have the vehicle of “06880” and the manner in which Dan Woog operates his service. Viewpoints can be expressed and, in most cases differing viewpoints do not generate hostility.
    Don Bergmann

    • Adam Vengrow

      We can all agree on one thing for sure! Dan Woog is the man and created an awesome product for information dissemination and communication in the 06880!!!!!

      • Thanks, Adam and Don. I’m honored to be able to do what I do. We’re all in this town together, and the more we can share opinions and talk rationally, the better off we’ll all be!

    • Don, and all, Apologies if I was derogatory in any way. More like flabbergasted…

  17. Michele Biro Deitch

    We live in a society where guns are ubiquitous, mass shootings occur regularly (with particular frequency at schools) and the threat of gun violence in America is thousands of times greater than that of terrorism (as per Politico.) It is startling that our country in this position – reduced to being at the mercy of the NRA and as a result, schools are no longer a safe haven. Having a police officer at school is a mild response to the horrific and very real threat our children face. I think we should go further. Just as many urban schools (including the highly competitive, specialized NYC high schools) have metal detectors at the entrance – at this time, suburban schools require this level of safety as well.

    Regarding how it might feel for our children to have a police office at school – Students are aware that there have been mass shootings in schools and that is what creates an atmosphere of fear! Police presence will give students the message that the administration is responsive to this serious problem and an additional level is safety is being provided.

    One last thought – In Australia, after one school mass shooting, sensible gun laws were put into place and there has not been school shooting since.

  18. I posed this question to my two Staples students and the response was a resounding YES! The thought of how it ‘looks’ never crossed their minds. They feel safe with the police – why would children feel anything other than safe with the police? Especially WPD who interact with citizens regularly so most kids are familiar with them, not scared or intimidated by their presence. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t get an officer in there fast enough and what are we waiting for?! These are trained officers, not part timers so the discussion of accidental gun discharges seems like an over-reach. It makes sense that an officer at the school will not only act as a deterrent but will make my kids, who now have drills as a part of life and recently an actual threat, feel safer in school.

  19. Wendy Cusick

    SROs are Uniformed Police Officers
    I thought you folks in Westport had SROs.
    I see from a collection of posts Westport doesn’t have them in place.
    Superintendent Palmer is a seasoned veteran who understands the program of SROs.
    I don’t remember elementary or middle school.
    In the 1980’s all high schools in Norwalk has at least 3 security monitors with radios plus an on duty plain clothes police officer that was armed with his gun and his main police radio to call for back up if needed.
    The security monitors (wonderful people) with their radios and plain clothes police worked well with all of us and were all well respected and loved by all (except the troublemakers of course).
    Rocket forward to the 2000s. Uniformed Norwalk Police officers SRO (school resource officers) were selected and place in the school.
    It’s been working very well.
    I’m surprised all the push back from residents. Your town is much bigger and busier than it was in the ’70s to late ’90s. Your town grew in the 2000s.
    I wanted to share with you information of a successful program here in Norwalk.
    View from the Norwalk side

  20. Roberta Tager

    Good for you, Don Bergman ‼️‼️‼️‼️ Thank you, Roberta Tager…former neighbor?

    Sent from my iPhone Bobbi

    >

  21. I view this as a monumentally bad idea. Rather than go after the root cause (guns) we want to now station a police officer in a very large school of 1000s. And of course we expect that person to act as a deterrent AND to be in the exact right place at the exact right time. Most active shooting events last ~5 mins and it may take 3-5 minutes to get from one end of school to another.

    This is the absolute LAST thing I would support on an education budget

    • Mike,
      Trying to keep an open mind here. People are the root cause. Not guns. Extreme crazy kills if it wants to via guns, bombs, trucks, knives, white powder in envelopes delivered by a friendly Postal worker, and oh yeah, jumbo jets.
      Instead of bashing ideas in an open forum, what constructive ideas can you bring to the table? What exactly would you say to the Maryland parents of the two wounded kids who’s lives appear to have been saved this week by the SRO who stopped the bad guy?

      • Ted Friedman

        I would say it was very fortunate that the shooter had a handgun instead of an AR-15 and we applaud the action of the SRO. I would also say that a key premise of Trump’s school safety plan is that the elimination of gun free zones and the presence of an armed officer or teacher will act as a major deterrent to potential shooters. Clearly a big fail in Maryland as it was in Parkland.

        • Phillip Perri

          I find it extremely interesting that although the majority of people on the side of pro-gun control are women, the majority of women that I have heard from at the various meetings and on this blog are pro-SRO, even though every fiber of their being despises the thoughts of guns in a school. That tells the whole story. A Mom’s first priority is to protect her children at all costs (whether it’s her’s or another’s). Take a lesson guys. This is NOT a political issue. Don’t play politics with our children’s and school staff’s lives.

        • Agree, Ted. Mister or Misses Crazy might not be deterred, or care. However, now that Mr. Maryland handgun shooter is dead, thanks to the not-coward Maryland SRO, Mister, or Misses Less crazy might think twice.

          • Ted Friedman

            I doubt it given that every mass shooter prior to Parkland has gone in with the intent of committing suicide by cop and succeeded. But you can keep having these delusions if it makes you feel good about doing something, however small, to protect our kids.

      • Michael Alpert

        Sorry Adam, I cannot agree with your logic. If people were the root cause there would be lots of school shootings everywhere in the world–but there simply are not. Does America have a corner on the “extreme crazy” market? To extend your logic, we are going to need armed guards everywhere…why stop at schools? I ride the train..where’s the guards there? What about the supermarket? Soccer field? Bars? Movie theaters? etc etc etc.

        In America we are an absolute outlier when it comes to guns. No other country has anywhere near the weapons and anywhere near the gun issues. So we can hide behind “extreme crazy” or video games or we can look at the statistics and use some common sense.

        • Russell Gontar

          Your questions are spot-on. Unfortunately, you can ask this question a thousand times and in a thousand different ways, but it is never answered.

        • Michael,
          You didnt answer my question about what you would say to the parents. Why? Becuase you are probably a decent human being and how could a decent person say the gaurd that stopped the shooter should not have been present. Right?
          My tiny swiss army knife was scanned, and confiscated at MSG last year, and I cant bring a bottle of water on a plane because we hardened the airports…Yet, our schools and kids are not protected. Have a safe flight.

  22. Bobbi Essagof

    I have always been appalled at the thought of any guns anywhere near our schools. As times change we must too. It is sad and unfortunate but not nearly as sad as children and teachers being killed in these seemingly never ending mass school shootings. A school guard does not need to flash his gun. It does not even need to be visible and the kids do not need to know that it is there. We must protect our children and if it means armed guards then so be it.
    Why are we so quick to protect our FB accounts and dogs on planes but not our most precious kids?

  23. Susan Saracena

    Keeping our children safe takes precedence over maintaining ‘youthful interaction and Openness’. We need to act on what today’s scenarios require from us to keep the kids safe from DEATH.
    Safety First.

  24. Timothy McNeill

    Not as a rebuttal, but for thought. Much of the controversy surrounding having a School Resource Officer depends on the expectations and definition of the role of a Police Officer in a school. Having lived previously in a community that has School Resource Officers, it was a positive experience for parents, staff, and students. While the officer’s presence did provide a level of extra protection, the primary function was not as a ‘guard’, but as a mentor, sports coach, tutor, and role model where the Officer was fully integrated into the staff. The Officer was also focused on the prevention of bullying, and developing positive relations with the student body. Officers chosen for these roles required approval from both the Police Agency, School Board and Staff to ensure that there was a strong fit. Of note, the result was a very busy Officer who often had students dropping in to his office to chat, and a very close understanding of events both on and off campus. The key to success is defining what the expectations are of the role and choosing the right Officers. If we go in this direction, the responsibility to do so rests with us all.

  25. As a parent of a middle and a high school student, I support having a dedicated school resource officer in each school. I agree with Don that it is important to choose the right officers to perform in this capacity, and that this should be a joint undertaking between the Board of Education and the Westport Police Department.

  26. Some have commented on this idea as an either/or scenario. This is only one prong of a multi-pronged solution. We must also consider a ban on assault rifles and bump stocks, and mental health initiatives; especially in early childhood when the greatest impact can be made and when parents are full partners in their child’s health and well being. Things become far more complicated if we wait to address mental health concerns in adolescence and early adulthood.

  27. First I want to Thank Mr. Woog for providing and managing the most important forum in Westport. Then I need to Thank Mr. Bergmann for his commitment to all good things Westport. We are very lucky to have you both. On the issue at hand; keeping our schools safe. I have always been perplexed why our culture is trying to control symptoms and not the disease. We as a culture of democratic freedoms tend to tolerate “bad” behavior until it impacts us personally. I understand the conundrum but I don’t understand why with such an incredibly intelligent and diverse community we are not debating how to cure the disease instead of the symptoms. Of course, I understand everyone wants something done NOW in Westport but here we have the opportunity to come up with ideas that can benefit the whole country. Please, give it a go, let’s examine the tentacles of this problem and follow it to its roots then debate solutions. I’d hate you think we don’t care enough to think a little harder. Thank you… everyone

  28. …wanted to add…I learned a long time ago running a business in Manhattan…surround yourself with people smarter than yourself if you want to get something done well. Intelligence has nothing to do with education. Experts come from narrow points of view. Trust your instincts but only if you can keep your emotions in check.

  29. Jaime Bairaktaris

    I’m speaking as an employee for a public school that has a full time, uniformed, armed police officer in the building at all times. I walk into work every day knowing that someone is actively assuring our doors are locked, our windows are locked, that every visitor’s license is scanned and their photo taken prior to entering the school, that every car in our lot belongs. They are not just a gun and badge. They hold the hand of a 1st grader who forgot their lunch in the classroom as they walk up together to get it. They are a direct line to an ambulance if there’s a medical emergency. They’re the person the kids go to talk to about their weekend or spelling test. Graduating from a school that has a fleet of paddle boards and canoes for a swimming pool (grant money or not), I feel our students’ safety should take precedence. If there is ever an emergency, we call for help. Why would anyone oppose having the help there already, and having help that is close with the student body and knows the inside/outs of the building? Unfortunately our world has changed, and we need to accept that. Officers in the schools protect the students and are invaluable to the community.

  30. Don L. Bergmann

    Mark, Thank you so much for your words as to my efforts. It is especially nice to be mentioned along with Dan Woog. Such words mean a lot to me. Don

  31. Phillip Perri

    Mark: Ah, if only it were so. You’re plea for common sense addressing the cause of a problem rather than the symptoms is right on. There is one fault in your plan however, POLITICIANS. They are the reason we have to take matters into our own hands and take measures to make sure (in this case) our children aren’t murdered while we try to move the needle in the political arena. The 2 biggest obstacles? Money filling the pockets of politicians and people refusing to see any compromise or “middle ground” and staying either far left or far right. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get reasonable gun control in place? You can’t because the majority of people on both sides think that kind of compromise is a “loss”. Neither the right nor left (and the politicians they own) will consider a compromise position. They’d rather continue to see children being buried. This isn’t limited to this particular issue either. The “middle ground” needs to step up and loudly demand compromise, take back the control from special interests and the mafia-like 2 party monopoly system of government we have, and threatening with votes. Until then yes, we can only address the symptoms. I wish it weren’t so.

  32. Phillip Perri

    The Westport BOE will be voting on the inclusion of the SRO Program on Monday evening, March 26th at 7:30 PM. Whatever your opinion on this issue PLEASE attend, get fully informed about the program and then make your feelings known to the board, one way or another. There is no issue more important at this time.

  33. As a soon to be empty-nester, I absolutely support the decision I suspect the BOE will vote on. Earlier this week, a Maryland resource officer stopped a student who had already shot two other students. Unfortunately one of those students passed away. Parkland, Florida was ranked as the safest city in Florida last year. Staples had a potential incident a couple of weeks ago. Having a trained officer at a school may deter an attack or reduce casualties. The officer’s presence may also deter drug peddling that can lead to addiction or worse. No dollar amount is worth one child’s life. However, special training for the police resource officers is crucial. In Israel for example, the school officers undergo testing and 40% fail and must reapply. They also receive training every four months.

  34. This group is interesting. We cover this exact topic “police in schools.” We started a Podcast/blog (through WordPress) that has reached over 30,000 people called Policing in Black and White. We DO NOT make money from this. We are TWO FORMER COPS who host a show for both sides of the community. We tell it like it is. If a cop is wrong, we nail him. We stick up for citizens of any skin color if they have been wronged. We also supports police who are in the right as well. We use our real stories as officers to communicate to the public. Both hosts were involved in deadly shootings as well. Feel free to listen and use our comment page!