VERNON, CT — Vernon's new school logistics and safety supervisor certainly picked an interesting year for a job change, but, then again, Steve Langlais has seen just about everything in town as a police force veteran of two decades.
"It's been interesting — and challenging so far," Langlais said this week while observing the morning drop-offs at Center Road School. "But I think we're doing OK."
Langlais has been in his new position since early in the school year, when longtime safety boss Cory LaFountaine left to take a full-time firefighting position in the area.
Coronavirus protocols were in place when jumped on board, but things are about to intensify Tuesday when elementary school students return to classes full-time after a couple of months of a hybrid program.
"We'll know a lot more Tuesday morning," Langlais said in his always-calm demeanor. "It's going to be a learning curve, that's for sure. If we all stay relaxed, we can make it work."
That's Langlais for sure. In his 20 years on the Vernon police force, he did a lot. Langlais was a member of the VPD Honor Guard, a school resource officer, a member of the East Central and Statewide Narcotics Task Forces, a crisis negotiator, a drone pilot, and the town's "officer friendly," who works with local students. He retired last January.
"When Steve retired, I knew he would be interested in the school job," Vernon Police Chief James Kenny said of the 2015 officer of the year. "When the superintendent called, I could not say anything bad about him. He was an outstanding officer, a great school resource officer and I think he'll fit in great at the Board of Education. He knows the schools, he knows the education system and I have a very high regard for him in that position. I'm very happy to be work with him again."
Vernon Superintendent of School Joseph Macary had a similar reaction.
"He came out as the No. 1 candidate in the pool. He's more than qualified," Macary said. "He's a 20-year officer that knows the schools. He knows the community and knows the people. It was kind of like a slam dunk. Steve is a great fit for us."
Vernon town manager Michael Purcaro, who is also the town's emergency management director, said Langlais has always had a good handle on the school system and its safety intricacies.
So will Langlais bask in all that praise at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, when a full slate of parents descends upon the schools at drop-off time? He responded in typical Langlais fashion.
"I think we'll be fine," he said. "I think everyone will be so glad to feel somewhat normal at the schools. Vernon's fine. We'll be OK."