In the final hours of the 2014 state legislative session, lawmakers overwhelmingly supported a proposal that mandates all Connecticut police agencies adopt a policy on the use of Tasers. These handheld devices resemble firearms, and shoot barbed darts that contact combative suspects allowing police officers to subdue them using jolts of electricity instead of other, more potentially dangerous means. The devices can also be used as a “stun gun” delivering a painful sting to suspects who may not be adhering to verbal commands from responding officers. Police Chief Michael Kehoe said that Newtown was among the first communities in the region to acquire Taser technology, and as a result, also became one of the first towns in Connecticut to not only develop a Taser policy, but a substantial training regiment and a series of post-incident reporting and analysis.
“It’s an important tradition for us to come here,” said Richard Gottmeier, prior to the start of the Monday, May 26 ceremony at the VFW Post 308 honoring veterans who have died in service to the country. Mr Gottmeier served 28 years in the Army and Army Reserves, he said, is a member of the VFW, and comes from a family tradition of serving the country since the Revolutionary War. “We pay our respects today to those who didn’t get to come home. They are the true heroes,” he said.
The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA) conducted a spring regional household hazardous waste collection project on Saturday, May 17, at the town public works garage at Turkey Hill Road. HRRA Director Cheryl Reedy said last week that regional regional residents drove 720 vehicles to the collection project to dispose of their waste. That participation represents a 46 percent increase from the 493 vehicles that were driven to the event last year, she said By far, the greatest percentage of users — 389 vehicles or 54 percent — were Newtown residents. The other regional participating towns were Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Redding, and Ridgefield.
In observance of Memorial Day, all United States and state flags should be lowered today. Per a proclamation from President Barack Obama, flags should be lowered from sunrise until noon today. Following tradition, President Obama and Governor Dannel P. Malloy have both issued proclamations to honor those who have served and those who continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.
As Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski said at the Tuesday, May 20, Board of Education meeting, members of the teachers’ union were there to deliver what Mr Kuroski called a “State of the Union.”Mr Kuroski said he has taught for his entire career, 29 years, in Newtown.“We have assembled a cross-section of teachers from each school who have volunteered to provide you with a perspective of what has been happening in our district over the past few years,” Mr Kuroski said.Mary Connolly, a language arts teacher at Newtown Middle School, was the first to speak following Mr Kuroski. “In 2009, Newtown teachers were furloughed five days,” said Ms Connolly. “This means we lost five days of pay and five days of professional development. The following school year the teachers’ work year was reduced from 189 days to 187 days by the Board of Education.” While student days were not changed, Ms Connolly said teachers lost professional development days
Flags were placed around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Main Street on Friday, May 23, by members of Newtown Woman’s Club to honor past and present veterans. This is the fifth year that the club has placed flags around the monument. Residents were able to purchase flags for $5. The funds helped to benefit veterans at Rocky Hill Veterans Home & Hospital and West Haven Veterans Hospital.
Dr Kevin Becker has more than 25 years of experience working with traumatized individuals and communities. The Massachusetts-based psychologist will be the keynote speaker at the Saturday, May 31, Community Connections “A Day of Shared Experiences,” taking place at Walnut Hill Community Church on Saturday, May 31.
The all-day event is geared toward adults age 18 and older, and will be centered on breakout groups led by various members of other communities affected by violence. Discussion leaders include members of the Nickel Mines Amish community, Columbine High School, and Virginia Tech.
Is deadly violence now the 21st Century response to what once might have resulted in a hair-pulling altercation or a bloody nose? According to the National Vital and Health Statistics, the homicide rate in 1933 was 9.8 deaths per 100,000; the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation posts the 2012 murder rate in the USA as 5.6 per 100,000. A decline in the 1940s and 1950s led to a low 4.7 deaths by homicide per 100,000 in 1960, ticking upward again in 1969 to 7.7 per 100,000. It would appear that many factors contribute to the various ups and downs of homicide rates, from the National Firearms Act of 1934 that regulated and taxed certain firearms such as machine guns to years of social unrest to right-to-carry laws. A CNN chronicle of the 25 worst mass shootings — not mass murders overall — shows that 13 occurred since 2000. Four of the top 25 mass shootings took place in the 1990s, and six in the 1980s.
The Newtown Republican and Democratic Town Committees both met May 22 and each unanimously endorsed their candidates for Newtown's 106 District. At a Republican caucus at Newtown's Edmond Town Hall State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky received the party's unequivocal endorsement for a second term. The 106 District includes most of Newtown and Sandy Hook. At the same time, local Democrats met and voiced unified support for Matt Cole, a 26-year-old who served as a key intern for former 106 Rep Chris Lyddy.