O'Dea against shrinking drug free school zones
Published 11:15 am, Thursday, April 18, 2013
State Rep. Thomas O'Dea (New Canaan, Wilton) opposed a measure considered by the Judiciary Committee on Monday that would shrink the perimeter of drug free zones at schools and day care centers while also limiting them strictly to school hours.
Currently, drug free school zones are 1,500 feet beyond the perimeter of the campus. House Bill 6511 would limit the drug free area to 200 feet and differentiates between school hours, after-hours school-sponsored activities, and non-school sponsored times of the day.
Day care centers are included in the 1,500-foot drug free zone, but the new proposal would limit the zone to 200 feet during hours of operation, rather than 24 hours a day.
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"I believe our Connecticut schools should be places of learning," O'Dea said. "We should hold our schools to high standards. If we suddenly apply time limits to drug free zones, are we sending a message that schools are a place for learning one moment, but after the final bell rings it becomes a new market for drug dealers? Our schools and day cares are where we send our children to learn and grow. Parents and children alike should see them as safe havens.
"The legislature should not distinguish between class hours, a homecoming dance, and when the first school bus drops off children before classes start and doesn't think the drug free zone should differentiate either," said O'Dea.
O'Dea said, "Selling or possessing drugs is illegal. When drugs are sold at or near public schools, we have allowed them to become dangerous environments. Tough drug free zones send a message to criminals that we are serious about our children. They are not a marketplace. School is a place for them to learn and grow."