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Norwalk Fire Chief Named To Sandy Hook Commission

Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy has been named to the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy has been named to the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy has been named to the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. The 16-member commission has been tasked by Gov. Dannel Malloy with reviewing current policy and making public safety recommendations following the Newtown school shooting .

The commission will be chaired by Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson. McCarthy was asked to join the commission after having served on the Department of Emergency Management and Security Coordinating Council and the Southwestern Connecticut Coastal Fire Chiefs Association.

“I expect that we’ll cover a broad range of topics, particularly mental health issues, both to make sure residents with mental illness receive proper care, and attention to the mental health of those exposed to traumatic experiences,” McCarthy said. Other issues will include school safety and gun safety.

“One of my interests is the care of first responders. We want to make sure that they have proper training before an event and, God forbid they’re exposed to trauma, to make sure they receive proper care so that they can do their job well and return to their jobs after that horrific exposure.”

McCarthy has already begun reaching out to people he knows who worked in Newtown following the shooting, in order to gather data that might help him when serving on the commission. He is hoping that all towns in Connecticut take away lessons from the commission so that they can handle any kind of emergency ranging from shootings to fires in schools to a citywide disaster.

“We’re constantly changing our approaches as we understand the impact of events like this. We’re always learning, it’s part of the process.”

In addition to Jackson and McCarthy, the commission members are:

  • Adrienne Bentman, director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living.
  • Ron Chivinski, a teacher at Newtown Middle School.
  • Robert Ducibella, the founding principal of DVS Security Consulting and Engineering.
  • Terry Edelstein, nonprofit liaison to Malloy.
  • Kathleen Flaherty, the staff attorney for Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc., and a facilitator and state trainer for the National Alliance for Mental Illness in Connecticut.
  • Alice M. Forrester, executive director of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic, Inc.
  • Ezra Griffith, a professor emeritus of and senior research scientist in Psychiatry at Yale University and deputy chair for Diversity and Organizational Ethics in the Department of Psychiatry.
  • Patricia Keavney-Maruca, a member of the state Board of Education and a former technical high school teacher.
  • Christopher Lyddy, the outgoing state representative, 106th Assembly District of Newtown, a program manager, trainer and consultant for Advanced Trauma Solutions, Inc.
  • Barbara O’Connor, the director of Public Safety and chief of police at the University of Connecticut.
  • Wayne Sandford, a professor at the University of New Haven, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice & Forensic Sciences, a former deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, and the former fire chief of East Haven.
  • David J. Schonfeld, the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, and a professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics.
  • Harold I. Schwartz, the chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living.
  • Bernard R. Sullivan, the former chief of police of Hartford and a former commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Public Safety.

The commission is expected to make an initial report to Malloy by March 15, in time for consideration during the regular session of the General Assembly.

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