Westport’s Public School’s New SSO: Helping Secure the Building


James Fiffer

Officer Brian Meraviglia has joined the Bedford community to help secure the building and its staff and students.

Julia Berg and Leilani Fleming

Many of you may have seen Bedford’s new SSO, School Security Officer, in the morning and afternoon as you board and get off the bus.

Officer Brian Meraviglia had been a state police officer for 32 years, and was the SSO for two years at Saugatuck Elementary School. Typically, he is at school from 6:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. He also stays later for events like Back-To-School night, the Monster Mash, and the various Staples High School sporting events.

Officer Brian’s main purpose is to prioritize “the safety of all of the kids and staff.” Due to the extreme violence of school shootings all over the country, Officer Brian took the job of becoming an SSO when the police chief requested that he return from retirement and take the job.

Officer Brian’s role at the school involves moving around the campus from the Wakeman fields to the back of the school with no set schedule. So as to avoid predictability.

He is responsible for keeping the students and staff safe in case of a threat. One way that he does this is by making sure strangers have a valid reason for visiting the school. Additionally, he may have to stop the buses from picking up students in the case that they think the school is dangerous, and he would bring in dogs to sniff out any bombs.

Officer Brian parks the police car he drives to school in different locations every day. His car comes equipped with a first aid kit, an AED, a spare suit of body armor, flotation devices, as well as radios linked to the town, Board of Education, and the police station.

You might not have had a chance to see what he carries on his person. You may not have realized that combined with his 20-pound body armor, Officer Brian carries a total of 35-pounds of equipment. Some items on his belt include a pistol with two safeties, extra ammo for the pistol, pepper spray, a taser, a baton, a tourniquet, handcuffs, and a body camera, which he said wasn’t usually on.

Some may be confused about the difference between an SSO and an SRO, or School Resource Officer. An SSO keeps students safe, watches for threats, is armed and can arrest, but generally spends more time outside of the school than an SRO. Currently, Bedford has one SSO and no SROs.

Overall, Officer Brian is responsible for the safety of the kids in Bedford. In order to do so, he is equipped with a utility belt and takes many precautions. Due to the nature of his job, Officer Brian has many different aspects to his work and must be able to deal with many different scenarios. However, his favorite part is that he helps kids feel safe and that “…the kids are happy and no one is sent to the office.”