By KAITLYN NAPLES
As part of one of the safety upgrades in the Plainville school district, Lowell Humphrey has been hired to be the district residency officer and Plainville High School monitor.
Humphrey is the former chief of police in Canton and began his post in Plainville at the beginning of the school year, last week.
Superintendent of Schools Jeffry Kitching said, while the district was audited for its safety and security, it was a recommendation to the Board of Education to bring in another monitor at the high school.
In addition to that, Humphrey will take on residency issues that may arise, and Kitching said every district goes through situations where students who are attending the public schools may not actually live in town.
“We’ve seen an uptick in residential issues where we hear from neighbors or get information,” Kitching said, and these situations would be handled by the assistant superintendent. Kitching said he needs the assistant superintendent to be focusing more on curriculum and instruction, so bringing in Humphrey was the best option, especially because of his background.
Humphrey has held a position in law enforcement for more than 30 years, and retired as police chief in Canton in 2009. He has been a member of the Canton Volunteer Fire Company for more than 20 years, and was its chief for seven years, and he was also an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for 30 years.
“Through his involvement as a law enforcement official, Humphrey was extensively involved in the implementation of emergency plans and security for Canton Public Schools,” a press release said.
Over the last few years, Kitching said, there has been one monitor at the high school, and adding a second will just improve the level of safety and security.
“We were looking for someone with the law enforcement background,” Kitching said, adding that there were many candidates who had the qualifications.
He said he expects Humphrey to meet with parents of new students and verify residency information, and when the district receives tips about students who don’t live in town, he expects proper investigations to take place as needed. The position also will provide more supervision at the high school during the school day.
“I am excited to begin in this role with Plainville Community Schools. It is a natural extension of my training and background in public safety,” Humphrey said in a press release. “I know that the Plainville school district strives for well-behaved, respectful school environments, and I am looking forward to supporting that focus, while utilizing my training and experience in public safety.”
The district made other safety and security upgrades before the beginning of the school year, including system upgrades and improving the doors at the elementary schools and middle schools.
Kitching also said the district has been working with the Plainville Police Department in submitting a grant application that would allow for two school Resource Officer positions to be implemented. He said he is still waiting to hear back from the state, but the grant would allow for two positions and would cover the salaries for the first two or three years.
Plainville Police Chief Matthew Catania introduced the COPS grant, or Community Oriented Policing Services, to the Town Council in May, which gave the green light on moving forward with the grant application.
The COPS grant is being administered through the United States Justice Department, and would allow for two additional police officer positions that would solely be school resource officers. At the May council meeting, Catania said these officers would have their “home base” at the high school and middle school, and visit the elementary schools. They wouldn’t be pulled out to cover patrol or other shifts within the police department.
“This is not an armed guard at the schools,” but another individual in the school who will be able to investigate situations, be another counselor for students, and serve as a way to obtain information in advance to prevent an incident “rather than cleaning up after a tragedy,” he said at that meeting.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.