(Copyright 1999 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

May 17, 1999

Bristol chief: More cops not the answer

By JOE WILBUR
The Tattoo

More cops in city schools isn’t the solution to
concerns about potential violence, said Bristol Police
Chief John DiVenere.

"We don't need police in the schools every day in
Bristol," said DiVenere. "That's not the answer."

But DiVenere said his department is working with
local schools to improve security.

"We've always had officers in the school, and youth
officers working with students, but we don't feel that it
solves anything to have uniformed officers there every
day," the chief said.

DiVenere said police have been working with the
board of education for weeks to "come to a plan to
make everyone feel safer, to increase security." 

DiVenere said there may be increased security outside
the schools, which he said could be a deterrent.

Police met recently with teachers and administrators
from Bristol high schools, middle schools and elemen-
tary schools, the chief said.

According to DiVenere, more meetings are in the
works.

Police will work with the schools until "we can all
feel safe and students can learn and feel safe in their
schools," DiVenere said.

At a recent meeting between administrators and
faculty, several teachers said they’d like to see a
greater police presence at the school.  

Eastern Principal V. Everett Lyons said that he's
working with DiVenere on getting money for more
police.

While some Bristol students said that increased
security adds anxiety to an already tense situation, oth-
ers said they were comforted by the idea of police
presence in school.

"I think they should have police officers here on
school grounds all the time," said Fernando Gonzalez,
a junior at Bristol Eastern High School.

Katie Stinchon, a freshman at Bristol Central High
School, said, "More police officers is a good idea."

"We should have more security," said Jack Winters, a
history teacher at Central. "There should be security
here 24 hours a day."

But Winters said, "Bristol won't do anything until
something happens."

Gonzalez said there should be “at least two to three
cops in each school.”

Some wondered about the wisdom of beefing up
security too much.

"I feel safe at school usually," said Amy Wheelock, a
senior at Eastern, "but increasing security and having
cops here would make me paranoid. It's more a threat
than anything- the idea makes me feel unsafe."

Michael Traverso, a social studies teacher at Bristol
Eastern, said, "You can't turn the school into a prison.
Too much of that and it ceases to be a learning
environment, a place where people feel safe."

Jennifer Swinsick, a Central sophomore, said having
cops in school would make her "feel like we’re not
being trusted."

Don Namnoum, a sophomore at Central, said, "Did
they make a difference in the Columbine High School
shooting? What difference would they make here?"

Tattoo staff writers Hila Yosafi, Merissa Mastropiero
and Amanda Lehmert contributed to this story.


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