WETHERSFIELD - The Wethersfield Town Council has unanimously voted to approve the application for, and, if they get it, accept a federal grant that will be used to add a school resource officer (SRO) at Silas Deane Middle School during its meeting last Monday night, May 20.
The grant, which would come from the U.S. Department of Justice, would cover $123,000 in SRO-related costs over the course of a three-year period. The town would have a share of the tab to shoulder as well--$228,000 in the three-year time frame, according to Wethersfield Police Chief James Letran, who was at the meeting to answer council questions regarding the application.
Accepting the grant would tie the town into a four-year commitment, the last year being completely paid for by Wethersfield, Cetran said.
“Once you fund it, other municipalities, they probably won’t pull the funds, because they want this to work,” Cetran said outside Council Chambers.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown has increased demand for SROs. Although school safety would be one role the officer serves, a large aspect of the job description would be connecting with Silas Deane’s community, Cetran said.
“It’s that camaraderie that develops,” Cetran said. “They feel comfortable talking to him.”
The district has a part time D.A.R.E. officer for 10 weeks of the year in the elementary schools, as well as one at Wethersfield High School. Adding one for Silas Deane is about “bridging the gap”, Letran said.
“We don’t want kids slipping through the cracks,” said Lieutenant Tom Mitney, who was at the meeting with Cetran. “It’s such a pivotal time for those kids.”
The SOR can mediate in-school conflicts, serve as a mentor, and refer troubled students to outside help, Cetran said.
“Sometimes it’s family life,” he said. “If you direct them to social services, you don’t have a juvenile delinquent later in life. It’s abstract but it works.”