On the morning of Dec. 14, Acting Middlebury Police Chief Richard Wildman first heard news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting via a text message from a fellow officer.
The officer asked if Wildman was at the school and how bad the situation was. Wildman, however, knew nothing of the incident. He had not been notified by state police and therefore could not tell Region 15 (Middlebury/Southbury) administrators to lock down the schools. When he called the superintendent's office, the school officials already knew and had taken the initiative to lock down schools themselves.
“I was really embarrassed by the whole thing” because the school officials had already heard it from the news, Wildman told Patch. “I said, ‘there has to be a better way to how we get this information'."
Now, Wildman is taking steps to make sure that all local police agencies should be notified when there is an active shooter anywhere in the state. He has reached out to local politicians, who have introduced legislation on his behalf that will make it mandatory for local police departments to be notified of ongoing shooting incidents in the state. That will enable local departments to send resources to the affected town and/or increase security at heavily populated locations in their own communities.
The proposed bill, Senate Bill No. 299, was introduced by Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, and is known as “an act concerning communication among state and local police departments during active shooter incidents.”
The bill states that Ch. 529 of the CT General Statutes be amended to require the Division of the State Police to use the Connecticut Statewide Police Emergency Radio Network to notify all local police departments of any ongoing shooting incident at a school, shopping mall or another heavily populated location.
Wildman says that the proposed legislation doesn’t cost towns or the state a dime since all local police departments already have the Connecticut Statewide Police Emergency Radio Network, or CSPERN.
State Rep. Tony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, whose district covers Middlebury, has co-sponsored the bill.
“I understand the chief’s concern,” D'Amelio said. “Being a police chief in a town two towns over, he should absolutely have been given notification [on Dec. 14]. …There is no blame for the Newtown incident, and the chief obviously realizes that. But we all want to make sure it never happens again and that we are prepared in the future. We have the technology in place, we just need to utilize it.”
The bill has been referred to the joint committee on public safety and security. To track the bill’s progress, click here.