NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. (CNN) — A Connecticut school system has hired armed guards to protect every school in its district. They say it’s a more feasible solution than paying police officers.
A police car sits outside of Totoket Valley School in North Branford. It’s a temporary solution to what officials see as a long-term concern.
“I think they were very responsive. They were one of the first towns in the area to respond and wanna do something to protect our children, so I’m happy with that,” says parent Mary Villano.
North Branford Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker says, “They’ve loved having the police officers in the building. We’ve gotten numerous comments, ‘Boy it’d be nice to keep them on,’ but obviously the cost factor.”
School officials say armed guards are the perfect solution. For the cost of one officer, the town can hire three guards.
Some parents wonder how effective it will really be.
“I don’t know how secure it’s gonna be. I mean, if it’s gonna make that much of a difference. It’s nice when you pull up to the school and see the police car sitting there, but my biggest concern is where’s the money coming from?”
Superintendent Schoonmaker says their budget should be able to handle the additional employees.
The town has agreed to help out if necessary.
The guards being hired all have previous experience in law enforcement and are going to be trained at the North Branford Police Department.
The guards must be retired police officers and have at least 10 years of experience.
Fifty-five people applied for the open positions.
“We interviewed 12 individuals and hired 6, and we’re going to conclude the process tomorrow afternoon,” adds Schoonmaker.
As for safety, Schoonmaker says the guards may not be able to stop a determined shooter, but they can hopefully save lives if someone gets inside.
“Once a person gets into a building, you have someone there that’s qualified and trained to interface with that intruder and really buy you time until the law enforcement can get there, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”