SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs High School is set to get a new face in the key role of school resource officer in January, as longtime resource officer Lloyd Davis shifts back to regular patrol.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department plans to send the new resource officer into the school in mid-November, giving that person time to shadow Davis and learn the position before the winter break. Once students and staff return to school after Jan. 1, the new resource officer will take over the position, Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief John Catone said Wednesday.
Catone said the decision to step down from the school-based role was entirely up to Davis, asked for a reassignment.
The resource officer position has been in the spotlight over the past year as parents, school board members and district staff debated — sometimes in deeply contentious terms — the role of former police officers who carried firearms as district school grounds monitors. The debate spanned the district’s entire strategy for safety and ultimately resulted in an armed Saratoga County sheriff’s deputy being stationed at Maple Avenue Middle School and the grounds monitors not being allowed to carry firearms. Current and former Saratoga police officers, including Catone, said the decision to disarm the monitors made the district less safe.
Catone said Davis broached the notion of moving out of the position over the summer; Catone said he thinks the safety debate of last year added a layer of stress to how best to move forward in the resource officer position.
“We would have loved to have him stay; it’s something he’s been mulling over for a while through this whole debate back and forth,” Catone said of Davis’ decision. “I think [the safety debate] put him in a position to re-evaluate his time at the school and was he the right guy to continue going forward.”
Catone and Saratoga Springs school district spokesperson Maura Manny on Wednesday both confirmed the transition in the resource officer position and said a media release identifying the new resource officer would be forthcoming. The release was not available as of press time Wednesday night.
The Police Department in the spring started working to identify three officers to be trained as school resource officers; they received the formal training in August. Catone said the department did so in case the school district decided to add more school resource officers or one was needed to fill in when the designated resource officer went on vacation or personal leave.
One of those officers trained in August will replace Davis.
The school resource officer serves as a permanent police presence at the high school, working closely with students and staff on safety education and prevention. Resource officers can also provide security advice to school officials, provide information to police officials and serve as the first line of defense if the school were ever attacked.
Davis, who has served as a Saratoga police officer since 2004, started his ninth year as school resource officer in September. A Facebook post from the Saratoga Police Department of a picture of Davis holding a “First Day of School 2019” sign received over 1,000 likes and dozens of comments grateful for his work.
“You’ve made such a positive impact on so many kids,” one person posted. “We are so grateful for all you do.”
In 2014, Davis was named officer of the year by the Saratoga Springs Police Benevolent Association, a recognition of his work in the school district.
“Highly respected officer right there,” another poster wrote of Davis at the start of the school year. “What today’s generation [of] officers should use as a role model.”
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