EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (WTNH) – The East Hampton Board of Education is considering adding armed security officers to its schools. The board held a public hearing Monday night to hear from parents.
About 1,800 students attend East Hampton schools. The high school has had armed security officers since 2019. If the plan is approved, the district would add an armed officer at the three other schools, which include two elementary schools and East Hampton Middle School.
“I believe having a solid defense in place could act as a deterrent to violence in schools,” said Danielle Sorrenti, an East Hampton parent.
Some parents were in favor of adding armed guards to the schools, saying it could shorten police response time.
“What prevents school shootings is kids with good relationships with adults in their life,” said Daniel Finn, a parent of five children in the East Hampton school district.
According to state law, armed security officers in schools have to be retired police officers or state troopers.
Some parents said armed guards won’t prevent a school shooting. They say focusing on mental health should be a priority.
“Mental health professionals won’t stop a shooter, that’s true. They prevent the shooter from happening in the first place,” said Jordan Werme, another East Hampton parent.
Superintendent Paul Smith says the district is focused on bolstering mental health services. Each school has a psychologist and school-based mental health clinics will be built soon.
The school has already implemented some safety measures, such as laminated safety glass on the first floor.
“I like people knowing they can’t necessarily shoot their way right into a school. It would take them several minutes to get in. And I am comfortable that we could have a police officer greeting them as they would make the final moves to get into the school,” he told parents.
A survey was sent out to parents K-8.
If the plan is approved, guards in East Hampton would have concealed weapons. It would cost the town $150,000 total for three additional officers. The board is expected to take this up again at their next meeting at the end of August.