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Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of a Westfield Board of Education Meeting

April 16, 2015

VIOLENCE, VANDALISM, SUBSTANCE ABUSE & HIB REPORT The State requires school districts to report on Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse and Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HI...

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Today's Events

Police Blotter

Burglaries Reported at Two Westfield Homes

April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015 1:24 a.m. Officers Bruno and Carrero arrested Marcin Krepula, age 38, of Clark for driving while intoxicated subsequent to a motor vehicle stop in the area of Nevada Street an...

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Columns

Monday with Millicent

Mark Your Calendars for Girls’ Night Out in Westfield, April 23!

No matter what, Thursday, April 23, 2015 is the date you are due in Downtown Westfield for their grand and glorious Girls’ Night Out. From 5 to 9 p.m., you’re welcome to come and enj...

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Westfield Area Y

New 'Move it and Lose it' Coaching Program Launches at the Westfield Area Y

The Westfield Area Y is pleased to announce “Move It and Lose It,” an 8-week coaching program designed to motivate participants to success through teamwork. Participants will pic...

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ViaNutrition

Partnering With a Health Coach to Achieve Personal Transformation

Many people find themselves in the grocery store, enticed by sugary treats or purchasing the same processed foods every week. Yet, they still find themselves with a mid-afternoon energy crash, u...

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In the Schools

Westfield High School Earns 6 Award Nominations for Fall Drama

The cast and crew of Westfield High School’s fall drama, "The Laramie Project," has been notified that the production received six Montclair State University "Theatre Night ...

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Connecting Commerce and Community

Young Entrepreneurs from GWACC Awarded Funding to Launch Startups

On Wednesday, April 1, 14 student entrepreneurs took to the stage to present their business plans before a panel of local leaders of industry and a public audience. The students were dressed as ...

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Experts of H.O.M.E.

National Window Safety Week is April 5-11

The Window Safety Task Force works year-round to promote window safety awareness, and every April it sponsors National Window Safety Week. For 2015, Window Safety Week is observed April 5-11. ...

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Take Five

Resources for a Rocky Marriage

If you’ve been married for more than two years, odds are, you’ve had several “moments” when you started thinking that the only way you could honor Til Death Do Us Part wo...

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Why I Opposed the Armed Officer (SRO), Again

By MITCH SLATER

May 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Last night at the Board of Education Meeting the plan was to hear a presentation about the effectiveness of the Student Resource Officer (Westfield policeman) for this past school year. One would have thought the actual officer himself would have appeared and spoke, but instead we heard a presentation from our Guidance Director and WHS Vice Principal.

I was very disappointed to not hear directly from the officer, though my views have not changed that what we really needed was a SAC (student assistance counselor) or mental health professional instead of an armed officer. Recently a criminologist at the University of Maryland wrote, "There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety. And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police—pushing kids into the criminal justice system."

Recently The Star Ledger reported on an incident at another NJ School where a coach at a sporting event grabbed the holster and gun from the school SRO and pointed it another coach in anger. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but these kinds of situations are alarming.

Just last week in another state a High School senior prank was met with an SRO approaching the students with his gun pointing directly at them--not knowing it was a prank. Add to the mix that a 2010 study of NYC Police officers showed that in situations where they are firing directly at a person, only 28.3 percent actually hit their target. Nobody wants to imagine what a stray bullet would do in a school of 2,000 kids and hundreds of staff. I am not staying that would ever happen with our excellent police force, but it's just not worth the risk in my opinion.

Neighboring towns are choosing other methods of security, like a wonderful new technology called the Share 911 program. It is a high tech emergency information system that provides access for employees, teachers, students, parents and most importantly first responders. It is being used all over NJ (nearby Springfield and Berkeley Heights, for example) in schools that have chosen to not have an armed SRO.

I also would like to know what the students' take has been on the SRO—I think a survey would be very helpful here. Please know I have nothing against our current SRO—he is an excellent officer and a dedicated young man.  Obviously as a parent I want all of our schools to be a safe environment. I just do not believe bringing a gun into the school is the smartest way to do it.

These are the views of Mitch Slater, Westfield resident, and do not reflect the views or opinions of the Board of Education.

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