October 1, 2022

Board Votes on Proposal to Arm Security Guards in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Tonight; Live Stream, Public Comment Available

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser. (File photo)

OLD LYME — The Region 18 Board of Education meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education Conference Room at Center School.  The fourth item on their agenda is a vote on the ‘Approval of Armed Security Guards [in Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools]’. 

A live stream of the meeting will be available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF2_W7yYtFwx067Ici9776Q/live

The second item on the agenda is Public Comment.

The agenda states, “While in person public comment is still acceptable, those wishing to make public comment virtually  may use the following Zoom link: https://region18.zoom.us/j/87635839590; Meeting ID: 876 3583  9590; +16465588656,,83527766795# US (New York).”

The agenda notes, “Those choosing this option will be required to follow the same expectations for those making public comment in person. After being recognized by  the chairperson, participants must state their name and place of residence before making their comments to the Board.”

The background to this vote is that on Friday, June 3, LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sent an email to all LOL Schools parents and staff stating, “At Wednesday night’s [June 1] Board of Education (BOE) meeting, the Board discussed my recommendation that we arm our school security staff beginning next school year.”

He continued, “This recommendation is based on long standing concerns over police response time to our schools should there ever be a life-threatening situation such as we saw in [Uvalde] Texas last week.”

Neviaser emphasized, “We do not take this decision lightly, but do feel that this additional preventive measure will add yet another layer of safety to all three of our campuses.”

An online tool called ThoughtExchange has been used to gather input from LOL Schools parents and staff anonymously. The window for feedback via that means ended on Sunday, June 12.

The methodology of the input-gathering involves, “A few survey questions and then one open-ended question.” This in turn leads to the submission and ranking of the respondent’s own thoughts, and then those of others.

Neviaser said in his email that he believed, “This online tool will help us to effectively gather a wide-range of thoughts in light of the abbreviated timeline to make this decision.”

The timeline to which Neviaser referred is the board’s decision to vote tonight on the measure. The reason for this short time-frame is that if the proposal is approved tonight, in Neviaser’s words, “There are numerous requirements that must be met to have this in place by August,” when the new 2022-23 school year commences.

Asked by email whether the community at large (meaning those who are neither parents of current students nor staff) could submit their opinions on the proposal, Neviaser responded to LymeLine that, “[They can] share their thoughts in the usual fashion via email [to him and/or BOE members] or public comment at the BOE meeting.” Emails can still be sent today through the end of the business day.

Neviaser had stated in his email to staff and students that, “All armed security officers must be retired state or municipal police officers with a minimum of 10 years of experience who have retired in good standing.  All of our current security personnel meet this standard.”

Asked how many security guards are currently employed by LOL Schools, Neviaser confirmed, “We currently employ four guards but are looking to arm five people as their supervisor (Director of Facilities and Technology) would also be armed as a backup.”

Comments

  1. Charlotte Scot says

    I want fewer guns, not more.
    I realize that I have no kids in school, after all, I am 75. But it seems to me that the more guns around, the more scared and paranoid people become.
    There were 19 armed cops at Uvalde. How many lives were saved? It took federal law enforcement to do anything. How did the Capitol Hill police do on January 6th?
    The only thing that saves lives is having a plan…for kids, for teachers, for security personnel. There should be an alert system (accessible only by school officials). Once an alert is signaled, every man, woman, and child in the building should already know her/his role. Parents should be aware of the planning and work with their kids at home to make sure the children understand it and are comfortable with it.
    Be armed with a plan, not another damn weapon.
    Think outside the box.

    • Thomas D. Gotowka says

      Christina and I have serious reservations regarding armed security guards in schools, but are more concerned about the issues and the tragedies that have made the Superintendent consider this option. I am glad that he is seeking input from staff and parents. Let’s not ever refer to this as a “good guy with a gun”.

      Children need to feel safe and be safe in schools.

  2. Rita MacWilliam says

    As an educator with 40 years of experience and a former principal of Lyme Consolidated I so disagree with this proposal. How can one guard with a gun overtake an AK-15 and body armor, or will the guards wear armor, too? Will this action make students and staff feel safer?
    There have been attacks at churches and supermarkets. Will we be seeing armed security there, too?
    Our staff and students need to be aware. I agree a plan is important. But will we be teaching our children to hide under dead bodies and wipe blood on themselves if there is an attack like in other schools?
    Let’s work on passing gun laws.

  3. Ellen Calkins says

    What a terrible idea! We need fewer guns, not more. I have 4 children who graduated from LOLHS and all 4 agree with me. No guns in school.

  4. CJ Mahon says

    Judging from the comments So far it seems everyone who doesn’t have a child in school is against the idea of an armed officer in the schools. Well, as parent of a young child, I’m terrified. And I’d prefer to not leave her health and life up to fate and luck that her school isn’t chosen by a psychopath.

    We absolutely need to restrict weapons and who can get them. There’s no need for AR15s to be out there. But even if we banned those weapons today, it won’t stop school shootings. Personally I prefer a trained police officer – off duty or on – to be in schools. Not a private security detail. At least give our kids a fighting chance instead of just hoping they aren’t targeted next.

  5. Bill Fitzgerald says

    I have worked as a teacher. I am a parent of a kid in the school. I have friends who have worked in schools when school shootings happened, and who survived school shootings. I want our kids and teachers safe. If school shootings could be stopped by putting armed guards in schools, I’d be all for it.

    But it doesn’t work, We know this.

    Armed security does not keep people safer in schools. Research shows that armed security correlates with increased death during school shootings. This study examined school shootings from 1980 to 2019: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2776515

    Also, read this interview with two authors that studies school shootings. It’s a chilling read, but helps show that putting more guns in schools — while it *feels* right, just doesn’t work. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/05/27/stopping-mass-shooters-q-a-00035762

    The whole interview is worth reading, but this quote gets at the heart of why putting armed guards in schools doesn’t work:

    “I don’t think most people realize that these are suicides, in addition to homicides. Mass shooters design these to be their final acts. When you realize this, it completely flips the idea that someone with a gun on the scene is going to deter this. If anything, that’s an incentive for these individuals. They are going in to be killed.”

  6. John Flood says

    Experts state that cowards who attempt these crimes often take their own life once they hear police yelling “police” at them and once they become ones being fired upon or opposed by armed people. The public seems fine with police being armed and the airports are much more secure today with armed staff. With the goal being to protect lives, I can’t understand why people would not see this as a benefit. I’m imagining at these local schools or any that one day experience this, if they don’t have armed staff, I think parents and other people will be wishing that they did afterwards. If the goal is to “monitor” lives potentially being lost, and “hope” for it to never happen or a positve outcome, I guess there’s no point in having anyone armed, nor to lock doors.
    Someone else wrote some of the following about security that I read in the Next Door App, I certainly agree with it all!
    WTNH showed CT schools already have shot warnings to the PD

    There is a concept in Physical Security known as the “5 Ds” – Deter – Detect – Deny – Delay – Defend. Visible security measures work to Deter someone from committing the act. Other measures (alarms, screenings, CCTV, etc) Detect any attempts to enter for illegal purposes. Locked door and access control systems work to Deny access. Barriers, screening points, layers of security then work to Delay an intruder from carrying out their mission. Security reaction and Police response work to Defend against attacks, often going on the offensive. Barriers such as quality doors on classrooms also help in the defense of potential victims. These types of steps are critical. Protection measures need to be in place for the safety of students, teachers, and staff while responders in the school and from outside agencies work swiftly to shut the perpetrator down.

    (Also) I find that there are several reports that it in fact armed people does work, such as the link below shows. The general media barely ever reports on them though (they only focus on anything they can to distract from it, and certainly all of the unprotected schools where it turns into a disaster)
    However I’ll give them credit for seeking the facts that happened in TX (where it seems everyone did everything wrong except teachers and students!) See other news that won’t be on TV on the link as well.

    https://lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicetribune.com%2Fbreaking-alabama-cop-kills-armed-man-breaking-into-elementary-school%2F&h=AT2-qJMwvPzwZXxm1E39aPgR66GUIOgXlgySjNce8ZMFWt5dxcFFV9TzJbRFJmjeqDVS58FC6YBkcBgfKtfC8C5sGKv6F-HV612LlqLQRPWgmptTahpWLmt8GCXIJn_LJDN0XjFYJfz5-yK3lg

  7. Liz Farrell says

    If you advocated that children need to wear masks in school to “stay safe”, please be consistent and advocate for armed security at schools. Fewer than 700 children have died from COVID since the pandemic began. So far THIS YEAR (and we’re only 6 months into it), over 1,000 children and teens have died from gun violence, and I would make a serious bet that NONE of these gun deaths were from/by security guards at schools. And yes, mass murderers are interested in suicide, but an armed security guard stands a chance of saving children’s and teacher’s lives prior to that suicide.

    • Thomas D. Gotowka says

      Let me again say that “Children need to feel safe and be safe in schools”. I’ll also say that I support the COVID mitigation protocols advocated by scientists and our public health professionals. Now, it may just be me, but I don’t see an equivalency between children wearing masks in schools to reduce the spread of COVID and arming security guards who are charged with killing a heavily armed mass murderer while under fire.
      Luckily, we are at the end of the school year and the Superintendent and BOE have time to consider options and develop an implementation plan. Note that we do not have children in LOL schools. Ours were raised in the Farmington Valley.

    • Bill Fitzgerald says

      Kids, teachers, school staff, families all have the right and the fair expectation to be safe.

      We should expect that our school board and superintendent would propose policies that kept as many people as possible as safe as possible.

      I’m not pro-gun or anti-gun – I’m pro-safety.

      The data on armed guards in schools going back 40 years, in multiple studies, is clear: armed guards don’t prevent school shootings, and armed guards don’t reduce casualties.

      I really wish that this wasn’t the case. I wish that armed guards were a simple fix. God, I really do.

      But they aren’t. We’re not going to improve a problem by doing what has been shown not to work and somehow expect better results.

  8. Robert J Staab says

    There is a grave issue today, it needs to be addressed. When I was a kid, Bill-the-cop walked through our school talking to kids and teachers. He carried a 38 and I remember looking at it with interest, not fear. People say, lets get a plan rather than bring in guns for safety. OK, develop the plan and get it approved and in the meantime, let trained retired officers carry weapons of safety. I prefer that for my grand kids. Robert J Staab PhD Certified Safety Executive , World Safety Organisation

  9. Mike Dickey says

    I have read all the comments and my suggestion is to watch the series of five videos linked below from July 2021. The presenter, Ed Monk, is a retired Army LT Col, Law Enforcement Officer, and High School Teacher. He now specializes in the study of active shooters. His videos take out the politics and emotions and boils it down to facts. Please take time to at least watch the first video, and hopefully all of them.
    Part 1: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FDDK0jLsdKQ

    • Mike Dickey offered a list of additional videos, which we are choosing not to publish at this time. Please contact editor@lymeline.com if you would like to receive the full list.

  10. Howard Margules says

    If the school board looks at all of the evidence, and decides armed
    guards are the best safety option because alternative safety measures
    would either be ineffective or too expensive, then they should also
    advocate for stricter gun control laws. We need prevention not just
    reaction.

  11. Kimberly Monson says

    There are study’s on both sides to both arguments, if you are willing to site studies, please attach the studies you’ve read or are referencing. It certainly helps with making an informed decision and you should want to provide it. I’d love to see what’s being referenced in many of these posts, truly. It’s a safety issue. I want my kids safe, I don’t want to be put in the position of losing a child to violence and coming back to this moment and feel anger and regret that principle prevailed over reason. We had a police officer at my high school, he was part of the fabric of my school community and we were quite comfortable having him there. He carried his weapon. When Sandy Hook happened, we all met at Lyme school and the OVERWHELMING consensus from parents was to have a police presence close to school grounds. Police make us feel safer. I would however be very concerned to have an untrained untested person with a gun around the schools. This is not what’s being proposed here, but I do want to know if the proposal was having an actual police officer in the schools would that still be cause for all this back and forth? It might be… Is it that it’s a security person? I don’t think anyone is saying cops are useless against crime and in fact create more deaths by their very presence. So I’m wondering if this is a discussion of qualifications? Genuine curiosity here.

  12. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    Frankly, I am more interested in hearing what the residents of lyme and Old Lyme, Region 18 staff, and even the children in our schools, have to say about this incredibly important issue than to sit back and admire a commenter’s skill in developing a bibliography. Let me apologize in advance for this snarkiness.