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Police Commission discusses firearms ordinance, donations, officer search

Weston Police Commission Chairman Bill Brady and Police Chief John Troxell discuss business at a recent commission meeting. —Patricia Gay photo

Weston Police Commission Chairman Bill Brady and Police Chief John Troxell discuss business at a recent commission meeting. —Patricia Gay photo

The following items were discussed at a regular meeting of the Weston Police Commission on Tuesday, March 5.

Firearms ordinance

The commission reviewed a “final draft” of the firearms ordinance proposed by the Board of Selectmen.

Commissioner Peter Ottomano suggested amending the definition of “residential target practice.” The section currently states that “trapshooting, skeet shooting and shooting at sporting clays with shotguns, in which clay targets are thrown to simulate birds in flight, are permissible exclusively at the Weston Field Club and the Weston Gun Club.”

Mr. Ottomano proposed adding “or as may be approved by the Board of Selectmen and Chief of Police,” after “the Weston Gun Club.”

There was discussion about a section on the discharge of firearms by minors, which allows children between 12 and 16 to discharge firearms at residential target practices “under the supervision of a person’s parent, legal guardian, school or camp official.” Commissioner Jess DiPasquale recommended adding that the camp official should be a minimum of 18 years old.

Commissioner Susan Moch recommended that the word “minor” be added in front of the word “person” in a statement in the “penalty” section, which currently reads, “This penalty shall apply to the parent or legal guardian of any person who violates the provisions of section 7.8-48(c).”

“If you don’t include the word ‘minor,’ you could have parents responsible for the penalties of their adult children,” Ms. Moch said.

The commission will offer its comments to the selectmen. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Thursday, March 21, before the selectmen’s meeting.

Taser donations

The Police Commission approved donations from Noel Lafayette and Linda Nash of Hill Farm Road.

They each sent a check to the Weston Police Department in the amount of $999.

In a letter from Mr. Lafayette, he said he wanted his donation to go toward the purchaser of a Taser, based on reports there was a “shortage of funds” for purchasing them.

Ms. Nash, whom Chief John Troxell identified as Mr. Lafayette’s girlfriend, also specified in a letter that her donation was for the department’s purchase of a Taser.

The commission approved Mr. Lafayette’s donation for use in purchasing a Taser.

However, the chief said he contacted Mr. Lafayette and told him the department did not need two Tasers, as it had received enough donations to fully outfit the department with them. He said Mr. Lafayette authorized the department to use Ms. Nash’s donation for other things it needed.

Commissioners said the donation could possibly be used for the purchase of barricades, traffic cones and equipment.

Officer search update

The department has received 20 résumés so far in response to an advertisement seeking police officer candidates. The closing deadline for applications is April 30.

While there currently are no openings in the department, the purpose of the listing is to create and maintain a list of qualified candidates should an opening arise.

The commission is seeking a new 10th patrol officer in its 2013-14 budget request, which the selectmen have approved.

The commission also requested two more new officer positions which the selectmen did not approve — an 11th officer to patrol School Road, as requested by the school superintendent and Board of Education, and a school resource officer, contingent on approval by the school board.

The finance board is in the process of reviewing the proposed budget and could make changes to the selectmen’s request. There will be a  public referendum vote on the budget on Thursday, May 2.

Budget review

While the selectmen did not approve the commission’s request for an 11th patrol officer in the 2013-14 budget proposal, Chief Troxell said it probably would not cost the town significantly more to hire an additional officer compared to what the department is currently paying in overtime.

Based on a study done by Sgt. Mike Ferullo, the chief said if an 11th officer is hired, it would significantly reduce the amount of overtime the department would need to budget because there would be an additional officer available to work shifts at straight time that are currently being filled by overtime.

In light of extra patrols requested by the schools after Sandy Hook, the chief said, there are more requests for officers.

Commissioner Beth Gralnick said that in the past, when the commission has requested a new officer to save on overtime, the problem hasn’t been with the salary costs but with the cost of benefits for a new officer.

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