You may have said a prayer or two before turning left onto Lords Highway from School Road during school bus hours. The heavy traffic in Weston has led to a call for an increased police presence, but meeting that demand has proved difficult.
At the police commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners questioned the lack of a consistent police presence at either end of School Road during peak traffic hours. "I know there are some extenuating circumstances," said commissioner Jeff Eglash. "But I've been up there. If there's an officer, it's pretty crazy. If there's not an officer, it almost gets out of control. From an accident standpoint, and just from the presence of someone in control, I think it's critical" that an officer be present.
The Weston Police Department is struggling with overtime costs because three officers are currently out or working light duty because of injuries. Sgt. Mike Ferullo said scheduling an officer to help with school traffic is difficult because of the manpower shortage. "We do everything that we possibly can to make sure we have an officer up there," Ferullo told the commission. "We just don't have the people sometimes."
Chief John Troxell added that there had been a regular police presence until recently. "It was a want that we responded to, he said. Now it has become a need. We do the best we can with it."
On Wednesday, maintenance mechanic Bob Fink stood at School and Weston roads in front of Hurlbutt Elementary School , waving some cars by and halting others. "It's not so bad," Fink said of the traffic. "You got to keep it moving, otherwise it's a disaster." Fink has helped with traffic duties since October.
The police department has received 94 applications that it will keep on file until the town is ready to hire a new officer, Troxell said. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein has said she would consider any new hire recommendation by the police commission, but that there are currently no funds budgeted for the position.
"We're saving some money along the way by not hiring a new officer," Troxell said. "But we're creating a situation where the officers are more prone to injuries on the job because they're working more hours."
Tell us your thoughts: Does the police department need a new officer?
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