Falmouth schools to add campus police officer

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FALMOUTH — The School Board will dedicate its March 5 meeting to discussing measures the School Department has taken and can take to keep the town’s schools safe.

In the meantime, according to Superintendent Geoff Bruno, the Police and School departments have “concluded it would be necessary to have an increased police presence on the school campus in the short term.”

“We will also be advocating for a second (school resource officer) … (and) officers will be conducting more crisis and safety training for teachers,” Bruno said in a post on the School Department’s Facebook page.

He also said the schools, in conjunction with the Police Department, would plan “carefully thought out and developmentally appropriate lockdown drills in all schools in the months ahead.”

Monday’s School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Falmouth Elementary School.

In announcing the school safety meeting, Bruno said “we are in a constant state of reviewing and strengthening our safety measures across the campus even prior to the horrible event in Florida earlier this month.”

Bruno added the School Board meeting next week would be “an opportunity for parents and members of our community to share their thoughts and concerns.”

On Tuesday, Bruno said his hopes for the meeting include communicating “some of the practical steps schools and law enforcement take to keep our students safe (and) to emphasize the importance of creating a safe and healthy environment for all students through strengthening relationships among peers and between students and staff.”

“A safe school climate exists when students feel a connection with one another and feel comfortable in reaching out to an adult when they need support or have concerns about another student,” he said.

Bruno said hiring an additional school resource officer would likely cost about the same as adding a classroom teacher.

He said the existing officer is armed while at the schools and “fulfills multiple functions in addition to his duties as a police officer.”

“He supports our administrators, counselors, and teachers with issues related to student wellness and substance abuse, assists school personnel with students and families involved in the court system, … manages and trains all staff in crisis response protocols, and educates students on matters related to law enforcement, student safety, and wellness,” Bruno said.

Bruno said dedicating the next School Board meeting entirely to school safety is important because, “as an educator and a parent, it is impossible to watch the coverage of the tragedy in Florida and not get rattled.”

“It is important for us to look to one another for support and ideas on how to continually strengthen our own sense of security and connection to each other,” he said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Falmouth Superintendent of Schools Geoff Bruno: “We will … be advocating for a second (school resource officer) … (and) officers will be conducting more crisis and safety training for teachers.”