Light wants school resource officer for Norwalk schools

LynAnne Vucovich • Jan 13, 2020 at 2:00 PM

As the former police chief, Mayor Dave Light shed some light on his thoughts on the safety of our citizens and insights about the police department. 

“One of the questions asked in the debate (at Norwalk High School) was, ‘What are we going to do to keep the students safe at the high school?’ Our department does a great job training and we always have. Norwalk Police was one of the first departments in the state to have quick action deployment training to respond to a critical incident in the schools,” Light said. 

“We trained to respond to them and they still train every year…. but we could be doing a whole lot more on the prevention side. I mean, it’s nice we can respond and clean up the mess afterward and stop things, that’s critically important. But what are we doing prevention wise?” 

Light said he wants to work with Norwalk’s schools to put a school resource officer (SRO) in place. 

“That prevention is priceless if you have a school resource officer. You see around the country they want to arm teachers, (but) the majority of teachers don’t want to be armed,” Light said. “It would be nice to have an SRO in the school.” 

The mayor said Perkins schools are on their second SRO this year and Willard schools also have an SRO. 

“Sandusky has had officers in the schools for years. So here’s Norwalk, the largest city in the county, and we have none,” Light said. 

Light said he does not think the police department needs another officer.

“They just added a 25th officer and our citizens voted for that to fund that 25th position. They’ve made it clear that they want a safe city and they want to do something about the drug problem in the city,” Light said.

“I also want to see us partner with the schools and we already have a trained school resource officer who has been through all the training. I want to see us work toward having a school resource officer that can be shared between Norwalk High School, Middle School, St. Paul’s. It would be a huge deterrent.” 

Light said he will be meeting with Police Chief Mike Conney this week to discuss the progress of drug investigations. Light said he also wants to start the bicycle program again. 

“We had that in place a couple of years ago,” Light said. “(Conney’s) coming around to where the first time in years, the police department will be fully staffed to where I think we can get that bike patrol going.”

He said it takes a few months for new officers to be trained properly before they can be on their own. 

As far as hiring a new fire chief goes, Light will not be heavily involved. He will, however, be in the decision-making process when selecting an assistant fire chief. 

“His involvement in the hiring of the fire chief is that he will appoint the person selected by the fire chief selection board, other than that he has no input in the fire chief,” Stu O’Hara, law director, said. “In the assistant fire chief, the mayor will be a part of the process of evaluating the applicants and making a decision who should be assistant fire chief and making that appointment.”

O’Hara said for choosing a new fire chief, a selection board, chaired by the president of council, will review applications. 

“The applicants will take a written exam. If they pass the written exam, then they move on to a series of assessments to concentrate on what’s their leadership abilities and management capabilities and so on to fill the position of fire chief,” O’Hara said.

“Once all that’s done they’re followed by interviews with the candidates and based upon that the selection board makes a recommendation to the mayor who then appoints.”

Similarly, the assistant fire chief will take a written exam and complete a series of assessments. 

“From the results of that, the administration will make a selection as to assistant fire chief,” O’Hara said.