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Norwood-Norfolk Board of Education wants more information on police proposal

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NORFOLK — While Norwood-Norfolk Central school board members debate the merits of having a police presence in the school, one thing is clear: the district would have to pay for it.

Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie told the Board of Education last week that it does not appear the town of Norfolk would help cover the cost.

“They think it’s a very good idea and we should pay for it. I did not hear the town supervisor say, ‘We’re going to step up,’” she said, noting that the school still has “an almost daily trooper presence” without having a full-time person in the school.

Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice said later that the town does not have the means.

“We don’t have it in our budget,” he said. “There’s no way the town’s going to cover any of the cost.”

While Mr. Pernice said town police officers have provided some monitoring of the school, they can’t do it full-time. Discussions have focused on hiring a retired police officer, which would be more cost-efficient because pension and benefit costs would not have to be paid.

The position is estimated to cost $22,000 to $24,000 per year.

“We’re not looking for a true school resource officer. There is the potential that as a guy retires, he can be put in there part time at a lot less cost,” Mr. Pernice said. “My motivation was to try and get somebody up there as much as we could when the doors were open. I think the presence of an officer there certainly makes somebody think twice about doing something stupid.”

But school board members say they want more information before they make a decision.

“I’d like more information on what the person can and can’t do, what that person would actually bring to the table,” George D. Fulk said.

He suggested school officials might check with other schools that have a police presence to find out that person’s job description.

Thomas W. Scott agreed.

“It seems to me we need a lot more information and a specific plan about what the person or persons is going to be doing. I think we need something in place” to establish, “Here’s what you’re going to be doing,” he said.

The last time Norwood-Norfolk had a school resource officer was 2008, when now-retired state Trooper Kenneth J. “Juddy” Plumb split his time between Norwood-Norfolk and Parishville-Hopkinton.

Mr. Plumb, who began as school resource officer in 2005 and retired in 2008, was not replaced.

Mr. Pernice suggested there needs to be some police presence in the school to prevent incidents. However, board President Jon D. Hazen questioned how much value a police presence would have if the person were in one wing and an incident occurred at the other end of the school.

The discussion was sparked by an incident Jan. 25. State police charged Steven R. Wells, 60, with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree harassment and fourth-degree stalking following an early morning incident at the school. He was wearing a shoulder holster with a black Desert Eagle BB pistol, which is considered an imitation pistol, beneath his jacket, troopers said.

Mr. Wells arrived at the school at 7:20 a.m. seeking to deliver a package to a teacher. The teacher told police he had been stalking her. He was taken into custody without incident.

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