By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — For the first six weeks of the school year, there hasn’t been a school resource officer at Timberlane Regional High School. That will change soon.
Plaistow police Chief Stephen Savage said yesterday an officer would be assigned to Timberlane by the end of the month.
The officer will replace Officer Joan Marsilia, who was reassigned after being at Timberlane for 11 years.
“We have identified a replacement,” Savage said. “We are now working on scheduling and getting them trained.”
He said he couldn’t name the replacement publicly, but he said it would be someone inside the department.
Timberlane Superintendent Earl Metzler said he will be meeting with Savage and the candidate shortly.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Metzler said. “I have all the confidence in Chief Savage to find the very best candidate to meet the needs of the school going forward.”
Both Savage and Metzler said it was time for a new face in the position.
“We just felt it was time to make a change,” Savage said. “This is something that was being planned last year, but the timing wasn’t right. Most school resource officers usually spend three to five years at a school, but we made the decision to keep her there because there wasn’t a lot of interest. This position isn’t just something you assign to someone, they have to want to do it.”
Metzler said the decision wasn’t about Marsilia.
“She loved the kids, she loved the school, but it was time for a change,” Metzler said. “We were taking a look at the campus and we knew we would be operating a little differently with new personnel in the structure of the administration.”
Savage said Marsilia wanted to stay at Timberlane.
“I think she would have preferred to stay over there, but that’s not one’s choice,” Savage said.
Marsilia could not be reached for comment yesterday.
There hasn’t been an officer at the school thus far because one wasn’t available, Metzler said.
“Ideally, you don’t want to have this gap,” Metzler said. “Fortunately there is never a gap in terms of safety, as the police have always worked closely with the school district.”
In addition to the full-time officer at the high school, Savage said he is working on getting a part-time officer at the middle school.
“We want to look at it as a tandem approach,” Savage said.
Metzler said it was important to get someone into the job as soon as possible.
“They serve a much bigger role than safety and security,” he said. “They work closely with students and families who need services. We plan to use the officer in many different ways, depending on their strengths.”