The Newtown Board of Police Commissioner began its first meeting since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings with 26 seconds of silence -- then promptly passed a resolution calling on state leaders to amend workers compensation laws.
"Twenty-five days ago this town suffered an immensely destructive act that will probably be with us for the rest of our lives..." said board Chairman Paul Mangiafico. "We suffered the loss of 26 souls, 26 innocent people, 20 children -- this town's greatest assets...whose lives were taken by this evil, horrible act."
Chief of Police Michael Kehoe and police union President Scott Ruszczyk both thanks the many neighboring police departments that helped patrol Newtown and run traffic control for all the funerals in the days after the shootings.
Kehoe called the help "unprecedented," adding, "and certainly, we cannot thank enough people -- if we were to thank people 100 times a day for 1,000 days, it wouldn't be enough...We had 60, 70, 80, 90 officers here each day...they all came, they all helped. "
Ruszczyk also thanked "all the people and the busineses who donated money and food and pizzas and cards of sympathy for the department.
Then he made a plea, telling the board the "currently, the town's insurance company does not recognize PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a reason to go out on leave" -- and knowing that the board planned to address the issue, added, "and want to thank the people who are working to change that."
A few minutes later, board member Joel Faxon introduced the resolution, saying, "There is a void in the workers compensation laws relative to emotional injuries...We feel it's important, or I feel, that the law is changed to address what these people and these officers faced and will face going forward."
The resolution is addressed to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and two men expected to be named speaker of the house and senate president pro tempore, state Rep. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and state Sen. Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn.
It reads, "Given the extraordinary effort and bravery exhibited by members of the Newtown Police Department, first responders, teachers and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, fairness and compassion dictates that the workers' compensation laws of Connecticut be amended to provide appropriate benefits for all those sustained physical and emotional injury as a consequence of their heroic efforts within the scope of their employment on and after Dec. 14, 2012."
Ruszczyk said afterward that 13 officers were directly involved in responding to the shootings, either immediately or as detectives later.
Those who need time off that they aren't being paid for currently are being supported by private donations, he said.
Only one resident, school parent Amy Roman, spoke at the meeting. She called on the police department and the town to continue posting an officer at each school; something that currently is being done but which officials have told her "is not a given," she said.
Roman said she "plans to do the work" to line up other parents who support the idea. Mangiafico urged her to do so, as well as speak to the other board and commissions that would be involved in any decision.