Police Wish List Includes 2nd School Resource Officer, Additional Detective
Chief Coyle cites Newtown as reason for the second school resource officer.
Three months after the horrific school shootings in Newtown, Conn., the landscape for police in schools has changed. A year ago, the Town Council and School Committee were debating whether or not they could afford one full-time school resource officer. This budget year, Police Chief Tom Coyle has asked for a second full-time SRO.
"We're looking at it," said Town Manager Bill Sequino after the Town Council meeting Monday night. The Fiscal Year 2014 budget is under review now. It will be presented to the Town Council by April 1 and will go before the voters at the Financial Town Meeting in June.
"The reason would be because of Newtown," Coyle said of the additional SRO. "Because of our schools – I say seven, I count OLM because we go there for a lot of things – to have two guys, I don't think that's asking for a lot."
Coyle was referring to the six East Greenwich public schools and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, which goes from kindergarten through eighth grade.
He said he'd want to keep Officer Steve Branch at East Greenwich High School and use the second officer to cover the other schools. Branch, Coyle said, was doing great work at EGHS.
"He's got communications with the kids and we intercept a lot of things there – drinking parties, or a fist-fight after school, or somebody's going to threaten someone else – he cuts these things things off and intercepts them before they escalate," Coyle said. "It helps within the school."
He said the number of incidents were down significantly over last year, which saw around 120 incidents at the school. So far this year, he said, there have only been around 20.
"A big difference," he said.
Coyle said he was looking for a fourth detective because of the yearly increase in calls for service. He said in 2010, EG police had around 20,000 service calls. In 2011, they had more than 25,000 service calls.
Those calls range from domestic incidents to calls for ejection to robberies to person annoyed to drunks in the street.
"These are all calls that take time out of the patrolman's day," Coyle said. And they in turn feed the detectives' case load.
The chief may want the extra manpower, but whether or not the Town Council (and voters) agree, only time will tell. Coyle said costs for the second SRO and the additional detective aren't finalized yet.