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Norwalk Officials Discuss School Safety Improvement Plan

All arms of the Norwalk city government will be involved to improve the safety of the city's schools.

City officials held a joint conference Wednesday to discuss the details of their efforts to revamp the security protocols in place in Norwalk public schools and the Safety Planning Committee that will oversee efforts.

Both the government and public have been incensed since the tragedy at Newtown. With the innocent lives lost comes a sense of urgency—urgency for change and for reassurance that everything possible is being done to avoid that scenario ever again. 

"Kids are our most important commodity," said Mayor Richard Moccia. "There is a sense of urgency. We're not putting a price on our kids' safety, or a timeline." 

The committee is made up of "principals, educators from the elementary, middle and high schools as well as health services, transportation, guidance and other critical stakeholders. The committee will work closely with the police, fire, health departments and the Mayor's Office." 

Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said there is no real concern for the safety of students with how the current plan is being run. With Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik citing increased patrols and random check-ins, McCarthy pointed out things are already running quite well. 

"There is a plan in place now, and we're operating under that plan," he said. "But we can not let an incident [like Newtown] go by without evaluating the plan itself."

Moccia said the inspection of the protocols would take place over the next couple of months but that he's already conducted visits to all but one of Norwalk's schools himself. He said preparation, down to the teacher and student level, is what would keep everyone safe, and that preparation must be carried out across the board so every individual is involved. 

"This must be a unified effort," Moccia said. "The last major overhaul was in 2001. There have been updates since then, but this is a top-to-bottom overhaul."

Moccia named Norwalk Police Lt. Mark Lepore and Lt. Brian Cunningham as the officers who will be overseeing the security overhaul. They will be the critical eyes for the Safety Planning Committee that will offer professional inspections of the plans and systems currently in place. The full committee will meet twice a month until specific goals and projects are met and completed. 

"We have police in all our high schools, security guards in all our middle schools. We're looking at our elementary schools," the mayor said after the conference. "I think we have things running pretty well for the time being, we're starting with a good system and doing something about updating it. Something like Newtown shakes one's confidence, but it doesn't change the overall fact that school is the safest place for kids to be."

Police Chief Kulhawik also announced during the meeting Norwalk PD's upcoming gun buy-back efforts. Read more on that here. 

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