Relief for parents in Meriden as schools will soon restore a resource officer to the district.
The city had recently eliminated an elementary school resource officer (SRO), but district families and the mayor fought to find a way to fix the problem.
Parents and school officials attended an emotional meeting on Tuesday night. They believed it would be unsafe to eliminate the elementary school resource officer position. They proved where there’s a will, there's a way, to find the money.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati proposed using town funds to fill the position again, and the plan was approved.
Melissa Hendricks and her daughter Nora, 8, told Meriden’s town council that Nora didn’t feel completely safe at school and urged the town to find the money to fund a school resource officer again.
“I think that our youth need good, positive role models, they need that good relationship with police officers to get them in their daily lives,” Hendricks said.
The Hendricks were joined by an army of like-minded moms who feel an SRO would not only protect their children, but also educate them.
“They need to the teach kids how not to give in to peer pressure to think for themselves and stay on the right road,” said Carmen Washington, of Meriden.
“By the time they hit middle school, if you don't have police influence where they're doing the DARE program and they teach them about alternatives, it's too late,” said Jo-Ann Hall, of Meriden.
Meriden’s eight elementary schools shared an SRO last year, but budget cuts forced the police department to eliminate the post.
That new proposal was approved Tuesday night with virtually no opposition, and the support of the police chief and school superintendent.
“Tonight's a great win for our students and our school system,” said school Superintendent Mark Benigni. “I really appreciate the mayor and the council taking the step they did.”
The SRO will cost the town $60,000, but the Hendricks believe its money well spent.
“You can't put a price on their safety. You can't,” Hendricks said.
The funds will come from the town’s contingency fund and an SRO will be posted at the schools by the end of the week.
One council member voted against the plan but only for procedural reasons.
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