Few police departments can afford the luxury of assigning a full-time cop to patrol or give anti-drug lectures in elementary schools anymore, but their presence in almost any capacity remains at least marginally beneficial to them, as well as to the schools. So what’s not to like about the newly announced program in Saratoga Springs, where on-duty cops will avail themselves of elementary school office space to do paperwork and other kinds of clerical jobs they’ve traditionally done at police headquarters?
The cops won’t have any specific duties at the four elementary schools within city limits, nor are they likely to be spending much time in the custodial offices where they’ll catch up on paperwork, etc. But their occasional presence will add a welcome margin of safety that’s been lost since the department suspended its DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program a few years ago.
Having an on-duty cop in the building at various times over the course of a school day should deter anyone with thoughts of launching a Newtown-style attack. It doesn’t matter that the cop won’t be there the whole day; because appearances won’t be on a regular schedule, no one will know when the “coast is clear” and thus will be unlikely to try anything — even vandalism.
Cops probably won’t be very concerned about students who commit crimes on school property or elsewhere — these are elementary students, after all. But if the need should arise, their occasional presence will likely make students more trusting of them and more willing to talk to them.
School and police officials say there will be no added cost to either party. Not having to return to headquarters to write up their reports may even save the cops time. If it truly works out that way, and if the cops don’t use the schools to maintain a low profile during their shifts (some of which will take place at night), great. The program will bear watching, however, to make sure all goes according to plan.