Enfield officials, residents and security expert discuss armed guards in schools

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza listens to school safety expert Michael Dorn answer residents' questions about armed guards in schools.
Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza listens to school safety expert Michael Dorn answer residents' questions about armed guards in schools.

School safety expert Michael Dorn spoke with Enfield officials and residents on Aug. 28 about the town's plan to place armed guards in schools. The retired police officers hired for the positions, which are scheduled to start Sept. 3, were also available for meet-and-greets with parents.

Michael Dorn was brought to Enfield to conduct a presentation, speak with the community and work with town officials to look at the security action plan “holistically” and offer suggestions. The security expert, who spent many years in law enforcement, is known around the world for his work as executive director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit campus safety center.

“We look at a lot of factors before we give recommendations, such as building design and building vulnerability,” said Dorn. “I will say armed security personnel in a lot of ways is not just for the case of an active shooter, it's [also for] the situations that are lower-level forms of aggression.” 

Parents such as Joshua Avery expressed concern about having an armed guard in the schools versus an unarmed security officer. He asked Dorn, from his experience, if an armed guard was significantly more effective than an unarmed guard. Avery said he wanted to have the guards, but does not believe in guns in school.

“Armed officers are not 100-percent fool-proof, but it's exceedingly rare [to have] especially a mass casualty event with armed officers present,” Dorn said. “It's fairly unusual to have an attack with an armed officer present.”

Another parent was concerned about the training officers might have in regard to working with children, specifically children with behavioral issues. Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said that, although he does not know every aspect of their careers, he was sure the guards have worked with kids in their 20-plus years as former police officers. He said some of the armed guards initiated programs for children in their communities, such as the DARE program.

“We are going to be having officers trained by school psychologists on an ongoing basis,” said Enfield's director of public safety, Christopher Bromson. He said the teachers, guidance counselors and administrators will continue to deal with disciplinary issues, not the armed guards.

According to Bromson, since the town began these initiatives, officials have been meeting with various experts such as FBI personnel, Homeland Security, state police departments, and other town police departments outside of the state to devise an action plan.

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