The Naugatuck Police Department wants to put an armed officer in City Hill Middle School next year.
The department made the announcement Monday to the Board of Finance when it presented its 2013-14 fiscal year budget proposal, which calls for two new officers, allowing for a school resource officer, or SRO, at the borough’s lone middle school for seventh-and-eighth-grade students.
“Certainly, we as a police department have a measured response to the tragedy in Newtown,” Police Chief Christopher Edson said. “We have implemented a plan that gives us sustainable coverage in the elementary schools, and we believe the middle school could really benefit from an SRO. …If we can get these kids a little earlier than high school, I believe we can solve some of the problems.”
Borough officials said Monday that the middle school currently has between 750 and 800 students, which police officers say make it the second highest populated building in Naugatuck during the work week behind the high school, which has an SRO and several security guards. The middle school has security guards, and the SRO would add an additional level of security and would be able to intervene when issues rise to a criminal level.
While officials presented no hard facts such as the number of incidents at the middle school, parents have complained for years about a select few who cause problems in the school.
Deputy Mayor Tamath K. Rossi, who works with the juvenile review board that oversees juvenile crime offenses, said there has been a spike in the number of cases in recent months. “Most of them are coming from City Hill,” she said.
Police Captain Todd Brouillette said City Hill Principal Brian Hendrickson, who was not at Monday’s police budget hearing, is behind the idea 100 percent.
“He absolutely believes there is a need for it,” Brouillette said.
The police department has also assigned officers to each of the elementary schools. They stop into the schools on a regular basis as part of their patrol. And police are in the midst of studying other security measures they can implement collectively in response to the Newtown shooting.
The police department’s budget request calls for an increase of $585,961, bringing it to $6.65 million. There will be several discussions amongst borough officials before a budget is set.