Members of the Enfield Board of Education voted on Tuesday night, 5-4, in favor of placing an armed guard in every school and residents are split on the idea and the decision.
Many board members said that it isn’t worth taking a risk after the school shooting about an hour's drive away at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last year, where 26 people were killed.
Enfield's new plan will take effect by the start of next school year.
“I think it would be overboard to have an armed guard here,” Jeffery Haddock, a parent, said. “I don't think they need them here. We've never had problems here.”
Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza disagreed.
“I want to make sure Enfield does everything humanly possible to protect our kids,” Sferrazza said.
The police chief believes that after the shootings in Newtown, Enfield needs to be prepared for the possibility of an active shooter.
“For those people who say it couldn't happen here, we're about 50 miles from Sandy Hook,” he said.
Middle and high schools in Enfield currently have armed school resource officers and they will keep their positions.
The police chief said he would hire 11 extra armed guards, but they would not be sworn policeman.
They would have qualifications and training to carry weapons and Sferrazza said law enforcement could be the best candidates.
“Either we take a stance and do all we can to protect the most precious children or we just sit back and wait for something to happen,” he said.
Sferrazza said the new hires would cost taxpayers more than $600,000 for the first year and the money would come from the town budget.
Some thought the spending was too much.
“I think the town could probably use the money on something else besides that,” Haddock said.
“We have teens in crisis. ... We have teens wanting to commit suicide. The money should be going to that,” Charlotte Gagner said on Wednesday morning.
School leaders said they couldn’t put a cost on keeping students safe.
And some parents said they feel the same way.
“After what happened in Newtown, it made me almost consider home schooling,” Kim Francis, who has a 7-year-old daughter in school, said. “For my child to be here all day, I want to make sure she’s safe.”
“I would rather pay extra money to have them be safe, rather than not to have security there,” said Myra Matthews.
Parents and residents who wish to learn more about how armed guards would impact school security, can attend an information meeting on Tuesday night at Enfield High.