Chief of Police Frank Papapietro and School Superintendent Michael Polizzi have joined forces to address the students about the reports of luring in small group assemblies being held at all of the district's schools Monday.
Under their guidance, the School Resource Officers (SRO), DARE officers, guidance counsellors, and Doreen Zacher, New Milford School Student Assistance Coordinator, have prepared a program designed to address the reported lurings and give the students the opportunity to voice their concerns.
Polizzi said that the SRO and DARE officers will be speaking with all of the students in smaller groups on an age appropriate basis, and counsellors are on hand to assist in answering questions.
"Our goal is to make the students more aware, more alert and make more responsible decisions," Polizzi said.
Since the first reports of lurings began coming in from other towns, Polizzi said that he and Papapietro have been in regular contact.
"The Chief forwarded me a letter from the Oradell Police Department that I added an introduction to before sending it out to all parents," Polizzi said. "We were being proactive even before any incident was reported in New Milford."
Since Friday's first report of an alleged luring in New Milford where a 17-year old girl stepped off her school bus on Thursday and was allegedly approached by a man driving a silver four-door sedan, Polizzi and Papapietro have been regularly communicating. In light of Friday's incident, Polizzi sent a follow-up message to parents informing them.
Since that first report, there have been two other incidents--a 10-year old girl and her 7-year old brother were allegedly approached by a man in a silver car while walking to school Thursday morning, and a 12-year old girl reported that she was approached by a man who asked if she wanted to "go with him" while sitting in her mother's car in the parking lot of Dunkin' Donuts Saturday.
Polizzi said that the interesting thing to come out of Monday morning's meeting at Gibbs Elementary School was learning that there are "quite a few rumors and myths about what actually happened" circulating among the students.
"Allowing the children to talk about what they have heard, as well as talk about their fears, gave the officers and counsellors an opportunity to redirect their concerns and allay some of their fears," he said.
Polizzi also expressed a deep appreciation to the New Milford Police Department for their involvement and direction.
He also commended the community for their vigilance and support, acknowledging that they have taken the parent-school partnership to another level.
"This is a very close community that has really pulled together," Polizzi said. "This is just another example of the community having every other community member's back."