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Niskayuna school board advised against hiring a resource officer

Niskayuna school board advised against hiring a resource officer

Niskayuna school board advised against hiring a resource officer
Niskayuna High School

NISKAYUNA -- Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. on Monday told the school board he does not recommend the district contract for a school resource officer.

Tangorra said during the school board meeting that police, with whom the district has a strong relationship, regularly visit district schools and are positioned to respond quickly in the case of an emergency.

He said he would rather spend district money to expand the number of social workers or counselors on staff.

“I believe that our relationship with the Niskayuna Police Department is extremely healthy,” Tangorra said. “I don’t think we need an SRO at this point, because we have a healthy police presence when it’s needed.”

He surveyed other local districts about whether they had resource officers or were planning to add them this year, telling the school board that deployment of resource officers was “all over the map” across the area. He pointed out that even if the district hired a school resource officer, that person wouldn’t be able to cover all of the district’s schools and wouldn’t be able to respond to an emergency at a different school any faster than other police.

“I would much rather hire an additional social worker or counselor … in the schools, rather than expend those dollars on an SRO at this point,” Tangorra said.

His comments came as districts across the Capital Region place armed, uniformed police officers in schools as resource officers. Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo finalized agreements over the summer with nine districts in the county to station sheriff's deputies in those districts, primarily at high schools.

In Saratoga Springs, where the district has long maintained a school resource officer at the high school, the school board is considering whether to approve as many as 10 grounds monitors, who are former police officers, to carry guns as part of their school security duties.

Not all districts have embraced the notion of a police officer permanently stationed in schools. Schenectady City School District officials have said they do not plan to add a resource officer position, though city police do regularly visit schools.

At Monday's meeting, Tangorra said Niskayuna police are always welcome in schools, telling the school board that police have a standing offer to drop in at any school buildings, check in with the principal and walk around.

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