(WTNH) – A number of school districts in our state are starting their school year with a new reality: armed school security officers. One of those districts is Old Lyme.
News 8’s Darren Kramer sat down with a group of parents, a teacher, and a school security expert to try to answer their questions and calm their fears.
“So, as a mom, the first reaction I had was to check in with my kids because they’re the ones who are in that school every day and they’re the ones who are going to be facing down armed guards when they head in the building each morning,” said Emily Bjornberg. “They’re not kids that are automatically scared by seeing firearms. But even then, even Anna and Eliot said to me, ‘you know, Mom, I think it may be scarier to see guns than to not see guns.’”
Former Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara sat down with the parents to answer their questions and discuss their concerns.
“We always have to remember that we can’t focus the discussion just on the gun. There’s a person connected with the gun, a trained person connected with the gun,” MacNamara said. “The benefit in the State of Connecticut, frankly, is that they all have to be retired law enforcement. So, that is a higher level of training that they frankly have had for a long time. They also have to have yearly training on it.”
The video below is the entire roundtable discussion:
Parent Dottie Wells said she still has some concerns.
“My concerns are, you know, how the kids are going to feel going into school, not just my own, everybody’s kids, knowing that there are our sweet security guards, but now they’re armed,” Wells said.
“You’re not alone in you kind of I really don’t know it. I think the important thing is the discussion and knowing who’s in the building and how it’s going to affect the culture. There are a lot of school districts that introduce a firearm. A person with a firearm has not disrupted that culture,” MacNamara said.
Mona Coldwell is a substitute teacher at a school that will now have armed security.
“As a substitute teacher, I knew there were days when I was at school and I thought, I am not qualified to be here. If something happens, I felt personally at risk that I would not be protected if something were to happen in the schools,” Coldwell said. “I actually feel like I would feel safer working in that environment.”
For parents struggling with the idea of this, here is what MacNamara has to say: “If we focus too much of our attention on the conversation with our children about the gun, the gun, the gun, the gun, then they’ll focus a lot of their attention on the gun,” MacNamara said.