At the request of the Somers School District officials and approval by Westchester County Board of Legislators, two uniformed police officers officially began working as School Resource Officers at the school district this week.
They were welcomed on Wednesday by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who launched the "Safer Communities" initiative last year. Under approved legislature, the county, through its Department of Public Safety Services, has entered into inter-municipal agreements with both the North Salem and Somers school districts.
Each school district will pay the cost of the police officers’ salaries and benefits during the school year. North Salem schools will get one School Resource Officer (SRO) while the Somers schools will get two SROs.
Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth explained how SROs can help prevent tragedies while fostering a safer environment within the schools.
"School Resource Officers work closely with school administrators to provide a safe and secure environment for students and staff," he said. "They maintain a visible presence at school buildings and grounds and provide a broad range of services to educators and students at the schools where they are assigned. We look forward to having a successful partnership with the Somers and North Salem school communities."
One officer will be assigned to the Primrose Elementary and Somers High School campus and a second officer will be assigned to the Somers Middle School and Intermediate School campus.
In a separate agreement, another county officer will be assigned as an SRO in the North Salem Central School District, serving the North Salem Middle, High School campus and Pequenakonck Elementary School.
The approved Acts, when signed by Astorino, will increase the number of school districts to three with SROs. Presently, the Lakeland Central School District in Yorktown is using one School Resource Officer at Walter Panas High School.
"It is critical that we make our children safe at school, and providing our fine County police officers on a reimbursable basis to guard Somers public school students is a most appropriate public safety investment,” County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) said.
The school districts will pay the County a total of $117,043 for the school-year services of each SRO, whose duties include maintaining a safe campus environment, investigating allegations of criminal incidents, working to prevent juvenile delinquency, working to develop classes in safety issues such as drug and crime prevention, while also addressing problems with gangs and drug activities around the schools, officials said in a statement.
School Resource Officers also assist administrators in developing school security and emergency response plans, participate in lockdown drills, monitor hallways and parking areas, help screen visitors, perform security checks on exterior doors, direct traffic when needed and provide security at school and sporting events that draw large crowds.
For more information on the SRO initiative, click here.
What do you think? Do you feel your children will be safer at school because of the SROs on campus? Tell us in the comments section below.