Le Roy increases law enforcement protection at both school locations
A new arrangement this year between the Village of Le Roy and the Le Roy Central School District will ensure both Wolcott Street School and Le Roy MS/HS will have a nearly constant law enforcement presence.
The arrangement is possible with the retirement of Officer Eric Miller, who was the School Resource Officer at the high school, splitting some time with Wolcott, since 2003, and a change in state law that allows Miller to now become an employee of the district to perform the same duties, and the willingness of the Village to continue to partially fund an SRO position.
The state has created a classification of school employees known as "special patrol officers." These are former law enforcement officers who remain qualified to perform the duties of an officer.
In Miller's case, not only is he still qualified, he has returned to Le Roy PD as a part-time officer, which will help him maintain his qualifications.
While Miller is at the high school, Le Roy PD has assigned two part-time officers to rotate coverage, one week on, one week off, at the elementary school.
"I think when we looked at what the county proposed, though we were interested in that idea, we felt that getting coverage in both buildings was non-negotiable," said Superintendent Merritt Holly. "I think the setup that we have here provides us with the opportunity to have an armed police officer in this building and a special patrol officer in the other building, so it gives us now the coverage that we're looking for."
His SRO position was created in 2003 shortly after Columbine (the April 1999 high school massacre in Jefferson County, Colo.) and he served both campuses.
His job, both as an SRO and as it's defined now, isn't just to provide security for the school. It's a job that involves getting to know students, assist them where he can, and providing information about school and personal safety.
Chief Chris Hayward said the new state law helps make the situation more flexible.
"I'm not a one of those who believes that in order to keep our kids safe there have to be uniformed police officers," Hayward said. "Do I believe that it should be someone like Eric who has that experience and has that training? Absolutely. But I don't think that it has to be an active police officer because there are requirements of Eric. Even if he hadn't been hired back by us, there are still those requirements where he has to go to the annual training with firearms, use of deadly physical force etc., so there still those safeguards, for want of a better term, in place to make sure that they're maintaining that level of training to respond in an appropriate manner."
Photo: Eric Miller, Tim McArdle, middle school and high school principal, Carol Messura, Wolcott principal, and Officer Heath Mattingly, one of two part-time officers assigned to Wolcott.