GEORGETOWN — Local students now have a police presence in their schools, at least until the end of this school year, to enhance their safety, after Finance Advisory Committee members recently approved a proposal to fund the security measure.
According to Georgetown police Chief James Mulligan, at their meeting last Wednesday, FAC members voted overwhelmingly in favor of releasing about $11,000 to cover the cost of supplying an officer for the town’s three schools from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., until the last day of school. Mulligan said as of yesterday, the program is already in effect.
“As we speak, there’s a officer patrolling our three schools,” Mulligan said yesterday. “He’s working with the principals at the school to be a visible presence on the campuses. He’s in uniform and fully equipped. He’s driving a black and white (cruiser) and he’ll park it where it will be highly visible. It’s a deterrent.”
In early January, in the aftermath of the school shooting that took the lives of 26 students and staff members at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mulligan went before the Board of Selectmen to seek support for restoring the funding to dedicate an officer for local schools. For four years, Georgetown had a full-time school resource officer, but the position was cut years ago due to budget limitations.
But Mulligan believed that in light of the Connecticut tragedy, the lack of a constant police presence in Georgetown’s schools was a gap that needed to be filled.
“Newtown is every town,” Mulligan said in a previous interview. “What happened there, can happen anywhere.”
Taking part in a community forum shortly after the Shady Hook massacre, Mulligan listened to the concerns of educators, parents and residents. He then explained the reality of the situations that police in towns across the nation face every day.
“I told them I can’t stop this kind of thing,” Mulligan said. “What we can do is try to minimize it.”
After gaining the nod of the selectmen to pursue restoring the funding for the position, Mulligan did the math and put together a funding proposal and went before the Finance Advisory Committee on Jan. 30. Although at first Mulligan thought comments made by the FAC members would lead to his proposal’s defeat, he was relieved when the vote was called.
Mulligan, who is retiring on June 28, said the funding approval supports a salary at reserve officer pay, with no benefits and no frills. The money only covers the position until the end of this school year, he said, and the town will have to make its decision again next year at to whether funding for a dedicated school officer will continue.
“Over the summer, they’ll take a hard look at the effectiveness of the position,” Mulligan said. “But since I’m retiring, the decision on pushing to fund the position next year will belong to the next chief.”