School Resource Officers Should Remain
The Governor’s budget proposal, which was released last month, was high on spending—about $124 billion—but included several cuts to fundamental programming and healthcare that would shortchange residents. Among those cuts includes funding to pay for State Police School Resource Officers. Under the budget proposal, Spitzer would pull 92 troopers from more than 100 districts across the state, including school districts in Oswego and Onondaga counties. This would eliminate SROs in Central Square, Skaneateles and Jordan-Elbridge, among several others throughout the state—a valuable and sometimes life-saving program for students and educators alike.
Cutting the funding for SROs would be—plain and simple—a mistake. The cost of the program is roughly $14 million, an inexpensive cost to taxpayers to ensure student and teacher safety. State Police officials have cited the critical value of SROs in ensuring a safe learning environment, as well as fighting crime in local communities. State Police said if funding is restored to their budget, they would keep the program because it has proven to enhance school safety.
In just the current school year, State Police SROs responded to more than 2,500 criminal calls, including 38 bomb threats, made over 1,000 arrests and confiscated nearly 100 illegal weapons. As a result of information gleaned from students, an SRO thwarted a planned attack in one New York school that was to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings, testimony revealed. In other cases, SROs have intervened to prevent more than 170 potential suicides, regularly acting as mentors to troubled students.
SROs’ presence clearly helps make schools safer, and enables teachers to do their jobs more easily, rather than worry about their own safety and the safety of other students. School Resource Officers are our first line of defense for our children. They help investigate crime and support educators by providing a safer, more secure learning environment. If not for their presence, often principals and educators would have to referee violent situations, which put them and other students at risk.
Moreover, if SROs are pulled from schools, and districts need patrols, this would force individual school districts to employ safety patrols, which would increase the tax burden for local residents—something we clearly don’t need in New York state.
Come this session, as legislators undergo budget talks, I will fight to restore funding to ensure that SROs remain in school. Removing this critical law enforcement presence from our Upstate schools is not just short-sighted and dangerous, but puts the burden of safety on teachers and principals. These Troopers provide not only a police presence in the schools, but also a trustworthy adult whom students can turn to for advice and guidance. Like any parent, I worry for the safety and well-being of my children, at home, at school and throughout their day. School resource officers serve an important role as first responders to safeguard students in any possible emergency, when parents can’t be nearby to do so themselves. I believe removing them would be a mistake and would, ultimately, endanger student safety or force the burden of care onto local taxpayers’ shoulders, a move that Upstate New Yorkers clearly don’t need.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or any other state matter, I can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (315) 598-5185.