NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 12, 2013

Chief aims to restore school officer

Proposal in response to Newtown, other tragedies

(Continued)

Mulligan said he feels strongly that renewing the position will give parents, students and educators an additional measure of safety.

Georgetown schools are physically secure, with locked entrances and cameras on every door, Mulligan said. Admittance to schools only comes after buzzers at the doors are pushed and staff can check out the person seeking entry, he said.

Should police be called to the schools in an emergency, Mulligan said every officer on duty would respond, with an expected arrival time from the station of 1.5 to 2.5 minutes. But, he added, given that duty officers could be engaged in other emergency calls, having a school liaison officer dedicated to handling the schools exclusively would provide better coverage. Not having one leaves a gap, he said.

“I feel that this is a hole that should be plugged,” Mulligan said.

Officers trained to work in schools with children fill another important role, Mulligan said. They can be helpful in detecting problems before they happen, which he said has occurred many times throughout the nation. Students hearing of someone planning a violent act have been known to reach out to school officers they have come to trust, he said, in some cases saving lives as a result.

Mulligan said if selectmen back his proposal, he will then ask the Finance Advisory Committee for a transfer from the town’s free cash account into the Police Department budget to pay for the liaison officer position from February to the end of school in June.

“If I have the selectmen’s support on this, I’ll calculate the cost and go forward with the Finance Committee,” Mulligan said. “If not, I’ll drop it.”

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