BERLIN – The public will have a chance to learn more about school safety and security in town during an upcoming forum.
“Everyone thinks it’s a very important topic,” said Mayor Mark Kaczynski Monday.
He said a tentative date has been set for Monday, March 19, at the high school.
There has been a heightened concern among residents about safety measures since the shooting at a high school in Florida last month. Fears were increased following an incident a few weeks later in which a “concerning post” found by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security prompted increased police presence at Berlin schools.
The threat was found not to be credible.
“I have little information personally about what happened that day but I do know this, children were frightened and parents were frantic,” said Richard Benson, a grandparents of a student at McGee Middle School.
He expressed his concern about the incident at a recent town meeting, as well as the police department’s decision to put the middle school resource officer on patrol out of the school.
“I would like that officer on duty everyday,” Benson said.
Berlin Police Chief John Klett said he shared the public’s concern about the middle school no longer having a resource officer.
“We try to get into the schools as often as we can,” he said.
The reassignment was due to recent department retirements and absences. Future discussions on the school resource officer being reinstated are expected soon.
“We have a very detailed emergency plan for every school,” Klett said.
Members of the police department, school board and town council will speak at the upcoming forum and answers questions from the public.
“We certainly wouldn’t want to broadcast to everyone what we do,” Kaczynski said about what will be discussed. “We just want to put parents at ease.”
Brian Benigni, Superintendent of Berlin Schools, said the district has been looking at adding extra layers of security for the last few years. Earlier this month, the school board signed off on a plan for security vestibules to be constructed at the middle school and elementary schools.
“Safety is first,” Benigni said. “It can’t be overlooked.”
More information on the forum is expected to be announced soon.