Westfield Public Schools to pay veterans to patrol schools, increase security
WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Something new is coming to Westfield Public Schools – volunteer patrols to add an extra level of security during the school day.
Westfield Public Schools will implement a new program to keep kids safe by recruiting voluntary veterans to patrol the inside and outside of schools, using their military expertise to identify any potential threats.
The pilot program will start in Franklin Avenue, Paper Mill, and Abner Gibbs Elementary Schools.
The volunteer vets will be unarmed and carry walkie-talkies to communicate with the school’s office staff if they identify suspicious activity on school grounds.
Superintendent of Westfield Public Schools Stefan Czaporowski told Western Mass News that the volunteers’ military experience will help with recognizing potential threats.
“Due to their circumstances, they’re able to identify a potentially dangerous situation; they just have experience in those kinds of atmospheres,” he said. “Not that our schools have that, but I think they could also serve as a possible deterrent.”
Veterans will also receive an added benefit for their volunteer work. The city of Westfield is prepared to dish out a $1,500 property tax break if they hit 100 hours of patrols.
The Director of Veterans Services for the city of Westfield Julie Barnes told Western Mass News that even before they added the tax incentive, veterans were eager to volunteer their time.
“We had a lot of veterans come into our office before the program even released,” Barnes said. “They kind of heard it through the grapevine, so when it released on January 1st, we’ve had quite a few veterans come in.”
Superintendent Czaporowski told us that this program is another small but necessary step in continuing to protect against potentially dangerous situations at school.
“It takes a village, and I think that student safety is a top priority, not just for the school department, but for everyone,” he said.
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