WATERTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Many Connecticut school districts are taking steps to stop mass shootings. They’re reassuring parents about security policies in place.
Town leaders in Watertown are doing more to keep school buildings safe and are providing tips for parents.
A community message was sent out to Watertown parents, signed by the town manager, superintendent, and police chief, letting the town know security will increase even more to ensure students are safe following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“We’re ready in case anything does happen,” said Chief Joshua Bernegger, Watertown Police Department.
Connecticut schools are turning to their local police departments more than ever amid the rise of mass shootings. More than a dozen communities, including Middletown and New Milford, are adding police or reinforcing their security policies.
“It’s so important we look at it holistically and look at what are our plans in place and actually work when it’s time to implement them,” said Mark Raimer, Watertown Town Manager.
Town Manager Mark Raimer, along with the superintendent and police chief, issued a joint response to the school community’s safety concerns, letting them know the police department is on top of it.
“We understand their concerns, we take them very seriously and we are doing everything we can to make sure the students stay safe in these schools,” Chief Bernegger said.
In collaboration with the police department, the Watertown school district will offer additional active shooter training, also known as ALICE. The superintendent explained to News 8 the teacher’s role.
“We wouldn’t have our faculty be on the front lines to take down an aggressor. We will start with an A: to contact police immediately and give as much information as we can,” said Dr. Alison Villanueva, Watertown Superintendent of Schools.
On top of their two school resource officers and three armed school guards, Watertown police will continue to send additional officers to schools. According to psychologists, data is mixed on whether armed officers in schools provide comfort to faculty and students.
“Even though it feels it’s going to make teachers and students feel safe, sometimes it does the opposite. It’s important to open up those conversations and ask kids, ‘what are you noticing,’” said Dr. Brad Jerson, Pediatric Psychologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
As part of that community message, the town had links for parents to have those difficult conversations with their kids. To learn more, click here.