FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield police and school district officials have made plans to increase school safety after the Sandy Hook School shooting by adding police officers and making school buildings more secure.
Immediately after the tragedy in Newtown in December, Fairfield installed locks and intercom systems at all schools that did not have them. “That was just a short-term measure,” Superintendent David Title said. More advanced systems with cameras and buzzer systems are scheduled to be installed soon.
“We thought that we needed to take some steps to keep up our physical security in our schools immediately, and did not wait for a budget cycle to make that happen,” Title said. “So we put a project or two on hold in our budget.”
Fairfield police are also conducting security surveys at each of the town's public and private schools. Officers will take in-depth looks at each school building and make recommendations to the Board of Education for ways to improve physical security. They will also give presentations to each school’s staff on the best procedures for their individuals schools based on the layout.
But improving the school buildings is just the first step. Fairfield police also want to improve their communication with school principals and teachers to be better informed about possible hazards.
For example, police would let principals know whether the parent of a student was involved in a domestic violence incident or whether protective orders prevented contact with certain students. The school district could also inform police when students are suspended or expelled, so patrol officers could be aware.
“It makes sense to have school resource officers, DARE officers and the youth bureau coordinate their actions with the school administrators,” said Fairfield Police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier, a member of the school survey team.
The Fairfield Police Department also plans to create a new school safety unit, with three new police officers and a new sergeant’s position. First Selectman Michael Tetreau added $229,148 for the new team's salaries into the department’s budget for next year. The Board of Finance is scheduled to discuss the changes at its next budget hearing session Thursday night.