In the past, advocates have pushed to change the statutes on workers' compensation, which currently include provisions for officers who suffer mental impairment as the result of using or being subjected to deadly force — but not for those who witness crime scenes with mass casualties.
Concerns about the potential cost to cities and towns have been an obstacle, but the issue is likely to resurface in the next legislation session, said state Rep. Stephen Dargan, a West Haven Democrat who is co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee.
"We don't want it to be used in an abusive way, but the circumstances are so horrific in Newtown. We need to protect those first responders and give them all the help we can give them," he said.
Officials with the town's insurer, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Firefighters who responded to the scene at Sandy Hook also have described struggling with feelings of frustration and anguish, but said they were grateful they were spared from witnessing the scene that greeted police inside the school.
Brown said outside agencies have been meeting demands for counseling services, but it will be important to ensure support is in place over the long term. The officers who are not working also could use up available sick time by early January, he said.
"The emotional loads they're carrying far exceed anything they could imagine," Brown said.
Police have yet to offer a possible motive for gunman Adam Lanza's rampage.
Expansive memorials throughout the small New England town have become gathering points for residents and visitors alike. A steady stream of well-wishers have taken pictures, dropped off toys and fought back tears at a huge sidewalk memorial in the center of Newtown's Sandy Hook section that is filled with stuffed animals, poems, flowers, posters and cards.
Newtown officials plan to convert into a memorial the countless mementos paying tribute to the schoolhouse victims. Thousands of flowers, letters, signs, photos, candles, teddy bears and other items at sites around town will be turned into soil and blocks to be used in a memorial, The News Times in nearby Danbury reported.