County Executive George Latimer has authorized the Westchester County Police Department to provide School Resource Officers to the Lakeland, Somers and Hendrick Hudson school districts.
Under separate contracts for police services, the school districts will pay the cost of the officers’ salaries and benefits during the school year, while the County will assume those costs during the summer months.
Latimer noted that the school districts will be able to enhance school security and student safety during the school year, by having five new School Resource Officers -- or SROs -- in their buildings. The County will then benefit when the officers become available to patrol County parks in the summer.
In a press statement, Latimer said: “The school districts will have these officers when they need them, and the County will have these officers when we most need them. It’s a great fit for everyone involved.”
Latimer said the County always adds additional officers to its parks in the summer, when usage soars at Westchester’s parks, pools and beaches -- and now will be better able to control overtime costs.
“Through this shared service, we will make students safer, and our parks will be safer at a more efficient cost,” Latimer said.
The new SROs for Lakeland, Somers and Hendrick Hudson would begin in the fall, pending approval of new contracts by the county Board of Legislators.
Westchester County Police already provide two SROs to Somers and one each in the Lakeland and North Salem school districts. The number of SROs will increase as follows:
- In Somers, the number of SROs will increase from two officers to four.
- In Lakeland, the number of SROs at schools in Cortlandt will increase from one to two.
- In Hendrick Hudson, the district is contracting for an SRO with the County for the first time.
The expanded program comes after school district officials approached County officials after the fatal school shooting in February in Parkland, Fla.
Acting Commissioner Martin J. McGlynn of the Department of Public Safety said SROs can help prevent tragedies by fostering relationships with students and staff, while creating a safer environment within the schools.
McGlynn said School Resource Officers 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.
SROs also provide student referrals to youth agencies and programs, participate in community-based drug and alcohol prevention programs, prevent or address bullying, and work with teachers to educate students about the dangers of underage drinking, drug abuse, driving while intoxicated, cyber bullying and sexting.
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