GROTON - In a time where state and local budgets are being shredded, the Groton Town Police Department has found a way to improve school safety, without costing any money.
Following the mass shooting at Florida’s Parkland high school last month, a heightened sense of anxiety became clear, within Groton’s student population, which became more evident during a storm they experienced following the shooting.
“Some of the lights went off and I actually had kids running towards me because they were that afraid that the lights went off and what’s going on, what’s happening,” said Officer Scott Bousquet, the Fitch High School Safety Resource Officer.
A couple of weeks ago, the Groton Town Police Department rolled out a new initiative called "Every School, Every Day."
“It’s great to be in the schools,” said Officer Richard Savino of the Groton Town Police Department. “Kids see us. Teachers see us. You get to know people, have a little bit of fun. Make that presence. People feel safe and they are more safe.”
Every first shift patrolman must visit all schools in their coverage area, at least once a day.
“The police officers here in Groton they are so kind to the students whenever they come in and it’s pretty awesome that they are doing this for us and coming in every day,” said Daniel Gaiewski, a Fitch junior.
The longtime armed school resource officer gives regular patrolman an extra incentive to visit.
“I got everything in here. I got Starbursts. We got some Lifesavers. I got Jolly Ranchers,” officer Bousquet said, while chuckling.
Officer Savino confessed Bousquet’s candy drawer is one of the reasons he loves visiting Fitch.
The presence of two officers is what truly offers a real sweet treat to the students.
“We have double the amount of power to be able to walk around the school and interacting with everyone and making sure that the climate is safe, said Jamin Importante, a Fitch senior.
The Groton City Police Department, which is different than Groton Town PD, rotates a full-time school resource officer between the three schools in its coverage area and tells Fox 61 they have had officers visiting each of these schools, during the morning and afternoon, every day for the past four years.