NEWINGTON – Tryouts to replace Student Resource Officer Dan Kaufmann have begun.
Newington High School Principal Terra Tigno told the Herald four police officers will spend one month each working inside the walls of NHS with staff and students as part of the process to select the school’s new SRO.
Officer Kaufmann retired Dec. 31 after spending three years in the position. Tigno said he will be missed by the entire school community. She and Kaufmann became principal and SRO around the same time, respectively.
“He immediately became part of our NHS Family,” Tigno recalled, describing him as “much more than a police officer.”
“He made it his mission to support students and families in any way that he could,” Tigno said. “He was often found talking with students in the hallways, cafeteria and during assemblies. He has a wonderful sense of humor and an ability to deescalate a situation. He will truly be missed by our entire school community.”
An email was sent to school staff to inform them the selection process had begun for the position this month.
All four candidates trying out are members of Newington Police Department. Officer Jeff Wagner is the first to begin his month at the school this January, followed by Officer Tim Rinaldo in February. In March, Officer Reza Abbassi will work at the school and in April, Officer Mark Benham.
“Once we have the opportunity to work with all four candidates, the NHS administrative team will make the final selection,” Tigno said. “The newly selected SRO will finish the school year with us and begin a four-year assignment in the fall of 2021.”
According to the town’s website, the SRO position was originally funded by a grant, but the cost is now shared by the Board of Education and Newington PD.
The SRO’s main responsibilities are to educate the school community about the criminal justice system, bolster collaboration between town agencies, investigate criminal activity on the NHS campus, mediate conflicts between students and serve as a resource to individuals in the areas of substance abuse, behavioral problems, domestic violence and sexual abuse.
During their time at the school over the next few months, each of the candidates will be tasked with taking on these duties while getting acquainted with students, teachers and faculty.
Members of the school community have been asked to provide Tigno with feedback on their interactions with the candidates.
“This will be very helpful to us in the evaluation process,” staff was told.
Tigno also told the Herald that even though the school is working on a hybrid education model due to the ongoing pandemic, there are students and staff in the building every day.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.