Six new school security officers, including a former Hamden police lieutenant who spent 26 years with the Hamden Police Department, were recently hired to staff school in North Branford in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shootings.
Since Dec. 14, there have been North Branford police officers stationed at all North Branford schools while school is in session as Supt. Scott Schoonmaker, the Board of Education, the Town Council and the North Branford Police Department began to formulate a security plan moving forward.
"It's costing $2,000 a day to keep those police officers there," said Schoonmaker. "We've got a good plan moving forward, it's pretty progressive."
The Town Council has agreed to cover any shortfall in the Board of Education's budget caused due to the security coverage.
In addition to assessing each building's security, the North Branford School District announced it was seeking school security officers. At the Jan. 22 meeting, it was reported that 55 applications were received.
"The quality of people coming in with expertise in those fields is impressive," said Schoonmaker. "We'll also work with an outside firm that will help us fortify our buildings."
According to the announcement placed by North Branford Schools, the salary for the position is $140/day (no other benefits). Schoonmaker said that hiring the six new security officers will raise his proposed budget increase from 2.35 percent to 2.99 percent, noting the total cost would be about $120,000 per year.
Six of those applicants were hired and their paperwork was finalized on Jan. 31, including former Hamden Police Lt. Charles Watts. The others hired include Patrick Redding, Robert Norman, Kristen Fitzgerald, Stan Girard and Henry DeBenedet.
The six join Robert Piascyk, who has been a security officer at North Branford High School for the past two years.
The following information, provided by the North Branford School District, includes each security officer's assignment, as well as job history and experience. Photos of each officer are in the attached gallery.
Security Officer Bios
Charles Watts, NBHS/NBIS, 2-6 p.m.
- Branford Public Schools security officer
- Police Lieutenant, Hamden Police Department for 26 years
-Shift commander supervising 3 sergeants and 15 patrol officers
-Firearms and defensive tactics instructor
-Special reponse team member
-Supervisor of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit
- Course work in Criminal Justice at University of New Haven
- Previously employed as transportation security officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Deputy Chief Judicial Marshal for the State of Connecticut Judicial Marshals.
Robert Piascyk, NBHS 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Retired South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority
-Chief of police for 25 years
- Former police officer for Woodbridge and New Haven police departments
- 35+ years in law enforcement
- Participated in many training exercises including Active Shooter Response
Patrick Redding, NBIS 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Retired City of New Haven Assistant Chief of Police – Patrol Division
-City of New Haven uniformed police officer for 27 years including detective sergeant in charge of youth services
-18 Commendation Awards
-2 Medals of Merit
Robert Norman, TVES, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Sergeant, Guilford Police Department
-Full-time police officer for 29 years, police supervisor for 21 years
-Police tactical and management training
- State of Connecticut Emergency Medical Response Technician
- Graduate of Connecticut Criminal Justice Command Institute
Kristen Fitzgerald, JHS, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Police officer, City of New Haven for 21 years
-17 years on the motorcycle unit/traffic team
-field training officer
-participant in active shooter scenario classes
- Bachelors of Music Education from University of Hartford
Stan Girard, TVES, 2-6 p.m.
- Retired, North Haven Police Department
-Patrolman for 25 years
Harry DeBenedet, JHS, 2-6 p.m.
- Retired, Yale University
-Police Lieutenant, 22 years
-Supervisor in charge of training
-Supervisor, Bomb Squad, Training Division, Firearms Instructor, Special Response Unit
-Supervisor, Internal Affairs
-Administrative and Student Liaison
- Retired, New Haven Police Department
-Police officer, 20 years
-Training officer, Firearms/Tactics officer, Internal Affairs Officer
- Author of CT law regarding bomb threats
- Awarded more than 40 citations
- Degree in Criminal Justice Management from University of New Haven