Schools in Enfield will perhaps have the most different look of all when classes start next week. Every one of them will have armed school security officers, part of the town's controversial response to the Sandy Hook school shooting.
The new program will cost about $500,000 in start up expenses, then another $500,000 in annual operating expenses. However, Enfield police Chief Carl Sferrazza, for one, said he believes it's worth it.
Eyewitness News was there as 18 new Enfield school security officers were issued radios, which have direct contact with police should a serious incident arise.
Among this new crop of unique officers being introduced next week is retired state trooper John O'Connor.
"I was a trooper for 20 years. I worked in elementary schools, high schools," O'Connor said. "The experience is there, certainly with myself."
O'Connor and his colleagues are not sworn officers with powers of arrest. They will be part-time, armed, school security officers.
All are former police men and women.
All have gone through rigorous physical, firearms and even psychological testing to ensure they are a good fit for part of the response Enfield has chosen to Sandy Hook.
"I think the goal, of course, is zero casualties in the building," Sferrazza said. "If they're not able to achieve it, and they're able to save half the lives that would have been lost, it's worth it. If we can save one life it's worth it. Because I can't put a value on individual child's life."
On Dec. 14, 20 first-graders and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Beyond these school security officers, the Town of Enfield has also hardened the school building to prevent or slow down an attack, though it will not go into specifics.
"That first week is going to be very important, meet and greet, certainly kids are going to be curious," O'Connor said. "Administration is going to be curious, but I think after the people see what we're all about, that will go by the wayside. I think the Enfield School District is going to be a better place having us there."
There are people in town who believe this initiative was pushed through too quickly by town leaders.
Those people are still pushing to have a town-wide vote on the issue and said they are heartened by a group of candidates for Town Council this fall who are saying, if elected, they will revisit the school security officer issue.
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