Police will be at schools so children feel safe

Milford police will maintain a presence at Milford schools in the coming days to help children feel safe as they enter and leave school.

Police Chief Keith Mello said the department posted uniformed officers at Milford’s schools Friday as the news of the tragic shooting in Newtown unfolded.

The department will take the same steps this week, and will have uniformed officers visible as school begins and ends.

“We are there as a reassurance,” Mello said. “We want kids to feel safe.”

He couldn’t say how long police will be posted at the schools. “As long as we need to,” Mello said.

The nation feels a need to be reassured, and that message was echoed in speeches made at vigils in Newtown, Milford and many other communities since Friday.

The shooting that took place is the “antithesis of what we as educators commit to — to teach our kids in a safe environment,” School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser said as she spoke to a crowd at a Milford City Hall prayer vigil Sunday evening.

In Newtown later Sunday night, President Barack Obama talked about the shootings that have unsettled the nation and left children, and their parents, shaken.

“If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try,” the president said. “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.”

Milford increased security at all of its schools after the Columbine shootings in 1999, and Chief Mello said he believes the city’s schools are safe. People cannot enter without being buzzed into the building, and staff is trained on how to react in an emergency.

“But we would be remiss if we didn’t continue to look at what’s in place and we will continue to do that,” Mello said.