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August 22. 2013 12:31AM

YWCA meeting deals with security issues after deaths

MANCHESTER — Parents who use the Manchester YWCA visitation center gathered at the Concord Street building Wednesday night, apparently to hear security procedures the organization has developed after the Aug. 11 murder-suicide during a supervised visit.

YWCA workers welcomed parents and Police Chief David Mara, but said a reporter could not sit in on the closed-door meeting.

The YWCA has come under question for security at its supervised visitation center, where Manchester resident Muni Savyon shot and killed his 9-year-old son and himself. Savyon, the subject of a restraining order because of threats he made against his wife, could only see his son during supervised visits.

Statewide standards developed by visitation centers had called for all non-custodial parents to go through a metal detector, but after the shooting the YWCA acknowledged it used a hand-held detector on a sporadic basis.

"I want to see what changes they're going to make," said Dyana Blanchette as she walked in with her son Wednesday night. She said she wants to see either a police presence or mandatory use of metal detector during visitations.

"We were under the impression that non-custodial parents were checked. They had it, and they didn't use it," she said.

Speaking before he attended the 6 p.m. meeting, Police Chief David Mara said he was invited and has not seen the new security plan.

"I'm here to listen to the families that use this service," Mara said. "I want to do everything the Manchester police can do to make this a safe environment."

He said a supervised visitation and child exchange center is needed in Manchester.

Most visitation centers across the state rely heavily on federal funds.

The Manchester YWCA received a three-year grant 2010 Safe Havens grant from the U.S. Justice Department for $185,000, as well as a one-year $25,000 grant, according to data supplied by the state Attorney General.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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