Ten residents have so far volunteered to serve on a security task force established by the Wilton Board of Selectmen to investigate and recommend security initiatives for both school and town facilities, in the wake of the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown.
During Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting at town hall, First Selectman William Brennan informed that he had been contacted by ten citizen volunteers, some of whom have backgrounds in security and/or public safety, who are willing to serve on the task force, which will be headed by Chief of Police Michael Lombardo.
"Some of them have interesting backgrounds… and I think it's great that they're willing to volunteer," Brennan said, adding that he would be asking each candidate to send in a resume. He said the task force, which will essentially serve as an advisory committee to the Board of Selectmen, will be comprised of nine members, "four or five" of whom will be residents. The board will interview and then select from the candidates. The remaining members of the task force will be public officials including school officials.
Brennan said he felt that having more than ten seats on a committee can become "unworkable" and therefore determined that "nine was a good number."
Selectman Hal Clark submitted a statement for the board's review outlining specific objectives for the task force to follow — however Brennan said he did some research and discovered that most towns that had established similar committees didn't give them specific objectives, but rather let them be free to explore options.
"They appointed the committee or task force, sent them a general mission statement or objective, and then let them be free put their own specific objectives together," Brennan said.
Selectman James Saxe suggested the board could still provide a set of specific objectives "just as guidance…"
The board had earlier drafted a mission statement to give the task force direction. The board members agreed to provide the task force with both the mission statement and the set of directives, which will be further reviewed and edited.
Clark said serving on the task is "not going to be an easy thing to do," in part because members won't be able discuss certain specific security details in public. "So we will have to find the right people — people who are willing to be sworn to confidentiality," he said.
Brennan said the task force members won't discuss the details of security measures in public, "they'll do it in executive session." However he also pointed that it has to operate just like any other board-appointed committee" "You have to have meetings noticed, and in public, and with minutes…"
Brennan said Chief Lombardo will be particularly helpful in helping the task force navigate through the wealth of security products, services and training opportunities, as there are now many new approaches to security. He pointed out that it every town handles its security differently and it will be the task force's role to filter through sea of solutions to find the ones that best suit Wilton.
Clark said the task force will also have to know where to draw the line on security: "America is a target rich environment and you can't protect everything," he said. "So they will have to think in terms of what we can actually do" as opposed to trying to safeguard against every imaginable scenario.
Selectman Ted Hoffstatter pointed out that the schools have already implemented effective security measures, such as locking all doors and using buzzers at all front entrances. "It's a good thing to see there has been action," he said.
Once established, the task force will have 6-8 weeks to come back to the board with recommendations.