Not only is a significant part of the town population in Darien schools when school is in session, but 13 police officers are assigned to visit the schools regularly, staying informed about and familiar with the buildings, the staff and meeting the students.
At a recent Police Commission meeting, Police Chief Raymond Osborne pointed out the work done by police in the schools and, separately, informed the commission that officers in the Youth Division attended a school security conference in Massachusetts for the first time.
School Security Conference
Detectives James Palmieri and Mark Cappelli, as well as Darien High School’s School Resource Officer Bryan Wallman recently attended a school safety conference at Woodstock Academy in the town of Woodstock, Osborne said.
“They’re engaging with school and safety professionals and [attending] relevant sessions on active shooter response, security on school campuses, student mental health issues and critical decision-making,” he said.
“We sent all three of our Youth [Division] people up there to get a little more well-versed on that kind of stuff. […] This is the first time we’ve sent anybody to this conference, so I’m looking forward to getting some feedback from them and seeing what it’s all about.”
School Liaison Officers Program
Osborne read from a memo emailed by Lt. T.J. Whyte to the 13 officers, thanking them for the job they’ve done over the past school year and noting what kind of work they do.
The officers include not only the DHS School Resource Officer Wallman, who is regularly at the school when it’s in session, but these 12 “school liaison officers” who frequently visit particular schools and some of the pre-school programs in town:
Middlesex Middle School — Thomas Isaac, Stuart Schwengerer
Hindley School — Christopher Jimenez, Neil Nair
Holmes School — Leslie Silva
Tokeneke — Joseph Cusano
Ox Ridge — Daniel Skoumbros, Louis Gannon
Royle — Mauricio Vigil, Richard Flood
Noroton Presbyterian — Elizabeth Dilorio
St. Luke’s — Joseph Licari
“I wanted to say THANK YOU for your efforts as a member of our School Liaison Officer (SLO) program,” Whyte said in his June 26 memo. “For the year, you logged 128 SLO visits to your respective schools!”
The duties of SLO officers range from drudgery to exercising people skills, including updating and keeping current a contact information list to emailing reports on their efforts, meeting with administrators and others at the assigned school, taking part in fire drills, lockdown drills and other drills, and attending other school events.
- “It was a challenging year in terms of school safety, in light of nationwide [reported] incidents (namely, the shooting in Parkland, FL),” Whyte wrote in his memo. “You each did a great job in meeting with your schools and furthering the dialogue on school safety and how we could help. Security assessments (which we updated in 2017) were re-examined and more suggestions were put into place following these discussions, and based on what you identified.
- “Most importantly, your presence and interaction with our school children painted us in a positive, friendly light. I can’t quantify that, but we all know how important that is. Throughout the year, I heard from more than a few principals and security staff how valuable you were to their school and how great it was for them to have a liaison to our agency.”
Osborne said school liaison officers are assigned to a particular school for at least a year.
“They usually build relationships there, so we try to keep them in place as much as possible,” he said. “The SLOs don’t usually bounce around. We try to keep them in place, although on occasion we have moved them — but mostly we try to keep it consistent.”
Whyte, in his memo, told the officers: “I hope you will consider remaining in your posts for the 2018-2019 school year.”