Weston candidates talk school safety, traffic and more in debate

Weston residents gather in attendance for the Police Commission debate at the Weston Library on Oct. 19.

Weston residents gather in attendance for the Police Commission debate at the Weston Library on Oct. 19.

Contributed photo /League of Women Voters of Weston

WESTON — As Election Day quickly approaches, candidates for the Police Commission faced off at the Weston Library on Oct. 19.

The debate was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Weston and moderated by Jean Rabinow, administrator of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut. The four candidates were asked their position on a variety of topics ranging from school safety and the police budget, to traffic issues in town.

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Republican incumbent Jay DiPasquale said residents have been verbal at monthly meetings regarding traffic, but noted the commission has been successful at fixing major areas. This included the intersection of Lyons Plane Road and Cartbridge Road as well as intersections near River Road and Wood Hill

“I think in general we work hard to respond to the public,” DiPasquale said.

Democratic incumbent Beth Gralnick while a lot has been done to alleviate traffic issues, better enforcement by officers is also needed. Gralnick added one of the major problems in town is speeding.

“Our chief is a past member of state police and he is well aware and has expertise in the area of traffic enforcement,” she said. “That will help us in the future.”

On speeding, candidates were questioned if red-light speed cameras could be added to ticket speeders. Democratic candidate David Muller said the sentiment would work for a big city.

“I think the balance between feeling that big brother is always watching and the small town nature, collegiality, and the relationship people have with the police department would not make that an attractive alternative,” Muller said.

He added it was more important to change the pattern of behavior everywhere, not just at areas that were monitored.

“I don’t think at a town of our size we want to start installing cameras to monitor behaviors,” he said.

Candidates also discussed the importance of school safety and noted the positive work of the police department in town. Republican incumbent Bill Brady said visibility of the police chief and other officers around school grounds contribute to ensuring everyone’s safe.

“When the parents go in there, when the school buses go in there, I think the kids feel safe,” Brady said. “They know they’re being watched over if you will.”

DiPasquale said while the school resource officer program was difficult to spearhead, it has since had a positive reception. He added the school resource officers have been more than just a security force.

“The children and students form relationships with these school resource officers and that is something that helps them before any issue happens that would be of a safety concern,” DiPasquale said.

Candidates also addressed growing concern for teenage drug usage. On reducing teenage drug and alcohol usage, Gralnick noted the benefit of SROs. Students have grown to feel comfortable speaking with a SRO about this topic sometimes more than they would a parent, she said.

“Our SROs have that kind of relationship and therefore can deal with kids who either tell them about drug issues or someone who has a drug problem,” she said. “We’ve been very successful and continue to keep doing this and being successful.”