Before new school cops, chief would fill vacancies

“I’d rather not get into a big beef over this,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the selectmen Monday night.

The Police Commission and Police Chief John Roche have said they are determined to fill the two vacant positions in the department before any new School Resource Officer positions are added, Mr. Marconi told the board.

A second and third “SRO” are being requested by School Superintendent Deborah Low and the Board of Education as part of the school security initiative in response to the December school shooting in Newtown.

Chief Roche is expected to appear before the Board of Selectman tonight, Tuesday, March 5, to discuss the stand he spelled out in a meeting with Mr. Marconi and Controller Kevin Redmond.

“To be clear and to have everyone hear him say what Kevin and I are believing,” Mr. Marconi said Tuesday morning, “…That before they hire SROs they have to have the current two vacancies that have been vacant since ’09 filled.”

He added, “According to the chief both the commission and he are in agreement on this.”

Tonight’s meeting is one of four selectmen’s meetings scheduled Monday through Thursday this week. Tonight’s and Thursday’s budget work sessions start at 7, and Wednesday’s regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 as always.

The cost of filling the two officer positions vacant since 2009 is projected at $138,000, and had been cut from the current working draft of the 2013-14 budget.

Monday night there appeared to be a consensus among all five selectmen that the police vacancies would not be refilled in next year’s budget.

“I’m not going to be held hostage,” said Selectwoman Barbara Manners.

Mr. Marconi told the board he was having the chief come in Tuesday to make sure everyone had a clear understanding of the various positions, and so he wouldn’t be left presenting — and possibly later being accused of misrepresenting — the police chief’s and commission’s position.

“I’d rather not get into a big beef over this,” he said.

But he also didn’t like what he’d been hearing.

“To be told if you don’t hire two more people we’re not going to do that — I don’t react well to an ultimatum,” Mr. Marconi said.

“All departments are lacking people.”


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