DA's School Resource Officers Program Grows, Seven Districts Now On BoardPosted: Updated:
Seven Broome County School districts now have resource officers contracted through the District Attorney's Office. The program launched in 2016 with only one officer contracted to a district. That was Windsor Schools, the district now entering their third school year with Officer Thomas roaming their halls.
"The relationships that Investigator Thomas has been able to build with students, family and staff of the Windsor School District has just been incredibly valuable to us," says Windsor Schools Superintendent Jason Andrews at a press conference on Tuesday.
District Attorney Steve Cornwell has said that the program is intended to fill the void left behind when state funding for school resource officers (SROs) was cut from the budget in 2011. The SROs are retired police officers with 20 or more years of experience who are employed by the DA's office, but their salaries are paid for by the school districts. Cornwell says this means there is no additional cost to the county.
"This is a very inexpensive way to do it," says Cornwell, also explaining that since the officers are retired, there's no additional cost of benefits.
Andrews says with no local agency in Windsor response times to the district can be unpredictable and worrisome in the case of an emergency. Not only does the SRO bring a sense of security on a daily basis, but Andrews says the officer also acts as a mentor and another addition to the support system for students.
"We've seen the results of those relationships that build over time," says Andrews.
Other districts say they're seeing the same thing. Windsor has been in the program the longest, but a newcomer, Whitney Point, says they are already seeing their students open up to the SRO, going to him with issues.
"We've had occasions where students have already come and said 'I saw this on Snapchat or I someplace else... Can you take a look at it and tell me if I should be worried about it?'" says Whitney Point Schools Superintendent Patricia Follette.
The complete list of districts participating in the DA's program are listed below:
- Whitney Point
- Chenango Valley
- Susquehanna Valley
- Broome-Tioga BOCES
- Catholic Schools of Broome County