Supervisors honor Connecticut town namesake
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: [email protected]town.pa.us
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.