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Derry councilor: We need to do more to protect kids

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent

March 07. 2018 9:24PM




DERRY — In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting last month, Town Councilor James Morgan on Tuesday called for Pinkerton Academy to hire, at its own expense, an additional school resource officer.

“This is a damn public safety problem,” he told the council during an hour-long meeting.

“And until we have mental health involved with gun purchases and until we lock these things down, it’s our job as councilors and as leaders in the community to stand up and say ‘Look, we want to make sure we take every single measure possible to make sure that our schools are protected, because it can happen here and it did happen 19 miles from where I was,” Morgan said, referring to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were killed by a gunman.

Morgan said these school shootings are a public safety issue and it’s up to town councilors to do whatever they can to prevent such carnage.

“We need to make sure that our schools are safe,” he said.

He called on the town administration to look at the costs of adding two more school resource officers (SRO), saying the additional law enforcement would serve as a deterrent for any would-be shooter.

Morgan said one of the resource officers could serve the Derry School District and the other Pinkerton Academy, which has one officer for a spread-out campus with about 3,000 students.

Pinkerton, he said, needs to “pony up” and pay for a second SRO because the cost should not fall on Derry taxpayers.

“They need to protect the safety of that school,” Morgan said. “We need at least two more resource officers in our elementary schools and our middle schools. Right now we have two resource officers — one at Pinkerton and one that bounces around from different schools on a regular day.”

A spokesman for Pinkerton Academy on Wednesday said the school is always examining safety procedures and taking all possibilities into consideration.

There is a divisiveness around gun control that cannot be resolved with the push of a button, he said, and while “I’m an advocate of the Second Amendment,” Morgan said he’s also an advocate for children’s lives.

“We can’t wait. Every community in the United States can’t wait for Washington to work out this problem,” Morgan added.

Police Chief Edward B. Garone on Wednesday morning said he spoke with Morgan earlier this week about the presence of school resource officers and indicated a second SRO at Pinkerton would be beneficial, given the size of the campus.


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