Members of the School Security Working Group including Chairwoman State Representative Carol Hall (R-Enfield) and Enfield Town Councilor Carl Sferrazza (R – At-large) announced their legislative agenda at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building on Wednesday, February 27th.
The legislators came together to study school safety and security following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School. “I came up with the idea for this Committee to make sure we were taking all appropriate measures to protect our schools and our children,” said Rep. Hall, the Committee’s Chair. “We wanted to evaluate legislation post-Sandy Hook to see what we should continue and what we can improve.”
Rep. Hall opened the press conference commenting, “Since April of last year, this working group has made a thorough study of school safety and security. We have heard from a wide range of experts and stakeholders from districts and organizations across the state. We found that continuing school safety and security requires a holistic approach supported by three different but equally important concepts. These include enhancing mental health support in schools through social and emotional learning, early identification and intervention as well as access to social workers and counselors. Additionally, we need to explore hardening of school facilities in concert with the presence of school resource officers or armed safety officers.”
During committee deliberations, the topic of arming teachers briefly arose and was just as quickly rejected. “We felt it would do more harm than good,” said Rep. Hall. “It would be an immense challenge to give teachers adequate training in not only firearm usage but also in how to handle active shooter situations. Our first responders have been trained for years in these scenarios and we felt it would be better to leave firearms in their capable hands.”
Carl Sferrazza, Enfield Town Councilor and former police chief also serves on the School Security Working Group. “Carl has been a tremendous asset to the Committee,” explained Rep. Hall. “He asks great questions. The breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience in these matters has made is presence invaluable. Carl has really been an amazing resource.”
The legislative agenda includes 18 proposed bills to address a wide range of issues from school safety plans to mental health awareness. Most of the bills have been referred to the Public Safety and Security Committee and Education Committee for public hearings and drafting. The School Security Working Group plans to advocate for the bill proposals during the legislative session and will continue working as needed.
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