Selectmen set up security task force in wake of Sandy Hook

With safety concerns looming large after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Board of Selectmen Monday took the first step toward the establishment of a Wilton Security Task Force. “The horrific Newtown tragedy in our neighboring community has shocked the entire nation,” said First Selectman Bill Brennan at the selectmen’s regular meeting. “It is not unreasonable to assume that if a mass murder can happen in Newtown, it could happen anywhere.”

Mr. Brennan said the security of “our schoolchildren, teachers, administrators, and town employees is a prime responsibility of every town and school official.”

The task force will be composed of town, police and school officials, Mr. Brennan said. Also, “citizen volunteers with public safety and security experience and a mental health representative would be valuable task force members,” he said. Residents with this kind of expertise are encouraged to volunteer for the task force.

The selectmen unanimously approved the proposal for the task force, and the plan will be further delineated and defined at their next meeting.

Second Selectman Hal Clark will serve as the board’s liaison on the task force and Mr. Brennan will be an ex-officio member.

Mr. Brennan said the mission of the task force will be to “further enhance the safety and security of Wilton’s public and non-public school children, and, more simply stated, to recommend measures to keep our schoolchildren, staff and town employees safe.”

Another objective of the task force will be “to provide careful analysis of new security technology,” Mr. Brennan said. “We can expect a major initiative to develop in the security products market in response to the Newtown tragedy.”

Several meetings of “town, police and school officials to review current security procedures and safety protocols” have taken place in the wake of the tragedy, Mr. Brennan said.

Police Chief Michael Lombardo said town police and school officials have been “very proactive” for a long time in practicing and preparing for “situational emergencies.” Safety goals are better served by leaving some of the protocols “not for public consumption,” he said.

In supporting the new task force, Chief Lombardo said, “An effective, preventative anti-school violence program requires communitywide collaborative partnerships.”

Chief Lombardo said he has been working in concert with neighboring police chiefs on the issue, and expects the state to name a “blue-ribbon commission” to address school violence in the aftermath of Newtown. More comments from Chief Lombardo on school security appear in an op-ed column on page 5A.

Dr. Gary Richards, superintendent of schools, has also been attending meetings with southern Fairfield County school superintendents to develop new strategies to improve school security.

Mr. Brennan said a new security alert has been posted on the town’s website, which says, “Security is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something, say something,” and lists the Wilton anonymous tip line, 203-563-0256. The Wilton Police Department number, 203-834-6260, is also posted.