Plans in place to station school resource officers in Alexander, Pavilion, and Pembroke
By the fall, three deputies with the Sheriff's Office will become school resource officers in Alexander, Pavilion and Pembroke, so the County Legislature is being asked to add three new positions to the Sheriff's Office staff.
Sheriff William Sheron said the three deputies who will become SROs have been interviewed by their respective school districts and approved. He plans to announce their names next week after the Legislature approves the new positions and the contracts with the school districts.
The deputies will join Deputy Matt Butler, serving Byron-Bergen, and Deputy Chad Cummings at BOCES.
Pavilion has budgeted for a deputy serving as SRO for 12 months. Alexander and Pembroke, for 10.
The members of the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday had questions about what happens with the SROs when school is out of session.
For BOCES and Byron-Bergen, there are events, as well as summer school, where the deputies' presence is possible.
In Butler's case, Sheron said the deputy will also build up a lot of comp time over the course of a school year, primarily from covering sporting events, and that Butler will take his comp time and vacation time during the summer. He will also work some road patrol and assist with Darien Lake security.
This will be the first summer for Cummings since becoming SRO at BOCES.
Each deputy will decide how to balance ongoing school needs, vacation and comp time during the summer, Sheron said.
In the case of the district's with only 10-month contracts, those deputies are more likely to wind up back on road patrol during the summer.
"Historically, both these schools that have them now, started off with 10 months but went to a whole year," said Legislator Gordon Dibble, former chief deputy for the Sheriff's Office. "I don’t think there is any reason these other schools won’t experience the same thing and eventually absorb that cost. I think it’s getting your foot in the door. It’s a lot easier to get your foot in the door for 10 and then add 12 after, from what I've seen."
Patrick McGee, principal at Byron-Bergen High School, attended Wednesday's meeting to discuss his school's experience with an SRO. He said Butler is more than a cop on the beat. He's a mentor, a positive influence, and a deterrent.
"He was at the prom," McGee said. "That’s the ultimate thing — no kids are going to come to the prom under the influence when you have a drug recognition expert. They know he’s standing right there. It’s not to scare them but it is a deterrent to certain behavior."
There's no price you can put on the safety of children, Sheron said, and such deterrence is invaluable.
"That’s the thing with deterrence," Sheron said. "You don’t know what you’re stopping. You’ll never know."