Su­per­vi­sors honor Con­necti­cut town name­sake

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

NEW­TOWN TOWN­SHIP - At the be­gin­ning of its Dec. 19 meet­ing, the Board of Su­per­vi­sors is­sued a procla­ma­tion hon­or­ing New­town, Conn. which was the site of the re­cent ele­men­tary school shoot­ing spree which left 26 peo­ple dead, 20 of them young stu­dents.

“Ev­ery time I heard New­town men­tioned on the ra­dio, or the TV, in the news­pa­per, I’m sure you all ex­pe­ri­enced what I did, how many sim­i­lar­i­ties there are be­tween this town and that one,” said Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher.

“It really res­onated with us,” he added. “That town looks so much like our town.”

The procla­ma­tion, which Gal­lagher read out loud dur­ing the meet­ing, com­mem­o­rates Dec. 21, 2012 as ‘New­town, Con­necti­cut Day’ in the town­ship.

“This town, founded in 1705, not only shares our name, but also the same hopes and dreams for its chil­dren,” Gal­lagher read. “This event, which hap­pened only 150 miles from our town­ship, will never be com­pletely re­moved from our thoughts.”

The procla­ma­tion also notes that “this in­com­pre­hen­si­ble act” will hopefully “draw us closer to­gether, re­mind us to watch out for not only our own chil­dren, but our neigh­bor’s chil­dren even more, and ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery day that we have to­gether.”

Af­ter read­ing the procla­ma­tion, Gal­lagher asked town­ship Po­lice Chief Henry “Rick” Pasqualini to ad­dress what steps New­town is tak­ing to en­sure schools here are safe.

Pasqualini said that he re­ceived “a lot of emails and phone calls this week ... peo­ple are very con­cerned about this tragedy.”

The chief said he per­son­ally vis­ited all the ele­men­tary schools in the town­ship and spoke with the prin­ci­pals.

“In Oc­to­ber we had lock­down drills in all of the ele­men­tary schools,” he ex­plained. “In Au­gust, we had a joint drill [with area po­lice de­part­ments] of an ac­tive shooter at Coun­cil Rock South High School.”

The po­lice chief noted that his of­fi­cers train reg­u­larly, and that the poli­cies in place are the “model poli­cies for ac­tive shoot­ers.

“It’s not a plan that sits in the drawer,” he as­sured. “It’s a plan that we work, and it’s a plan that we mod­ify.

“It’s all a learn­ing process,” Pasqualini ac­knowl­edged, not­ing that plans are up­dated con­stantly in light of school shoot­ings na­tion­wide.

Although the chief would not dis­close spe- cif­i­cally how a par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion would be dealt with, he said. “The staff at Coun­cil Rock, the teach­ers, the ad­min­is­tra­tors, they are right on tar­get with this on how sus­pi­cious peo­ple are checked out.”

Pasqualini said that New­town Town­ship pro­vides Coun­cil Rock High School North with a full-time po­lice of­fi­cer, whose salary is split be­tween the town­ship and school district. There’s also a D.A.R.E. of­fi­cer for the ele­men­tary school who deals with bul­ly­ing and other com­plaints.

“We have a pres­ence in and out of the schools at all times,” he said.

Pasqualini said that the com­put­ers in the town­ship’s po­lice cars have been re­cently out­fit­ted with the abil­ity to view live video streams from Coun­cil Rock North so that of­fi­cers can quickly re­spond to any in­ci­dents there, as well as mon­i­tor the hall­ways.

In ad­di­tion, all New­town of­fi­cers are fa­mil­iar with the lay­outs of not only ev­ery pub­lic and pri­vate school in the town­ship, but Bucks County Com­mu­nity Col­lege as well.

Pasqualini said that soon the blue­prints of ev­ery school will be able to be dis­played on the pa­trol cars’ com­puter mon­i­tors.

“We have a highly trained and well skilled po­lice de­part­ment,” he main­tained, “and we work to con­stantly im­prove.

“There’s no way that you can be pre­pared for this sort of tragedy,” Pasqualini said, “but we do ev­ery­thing that we pos­si­bly can.

“When you see the Kinder­garten kids coming out of the school, it brings tears to your eyes of what they’re go­ing through in Con­necti­cut,” he lamented.

Res­i­dents are en­cour­aged to e-mail any ques­tions or com­ments to: chief@twp.new­town.pa.us

Aaron On­tiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Com­mu­nity mem­bers re­mem­ber the vic­tims of the Sandy Hook school shoot­ing in New­town, Conn., with pub­lic dis­plays, in­clud­ing th­ese 26 crosses bear­ing the names of the vic­tims.

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