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Saratoga schools may hire second resource officer

Saratoga schools may hire second resource officer

Action called 'woefully inadequate' by group pushing for more armed personnel
Saratoga schools may hire second resource officer
Meg Messitt, 15, addresses the Saratoga Springs school board on school safety.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Saratoga Springs City School District is close to hiring a second school resource officer.

District officials plan to present a contract for school board approval at the board’s Jan. 24 meeting, with an expected start date in early February, district spokeswoman Maura Manny said on Thursday.

The new resource officer will come from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department and will be stationed at Maple Avenue Middle School. The officer will also cover Greenfield and Dorothy Nolan elementary schools, all of which fall outside the jurisdiction of Saratoga Springs city police.

Lloyd Davis, an officer with the city Police Department, is the district's lone school resource officer now and is based at the high school. The district has had a city police officer serve as resource officer at the high school for many years.

School board members have broadly expressed support for adding a second resource officer, amid a contentious debate over whether to re-arm district grounds monitors. The grounds monitors are former police officers who work for the district, and for years they carried firearms on school grounds. But district officials halted that practice in the spring after determining it was illegal without specific approval.

Since the school board, in October, narrowly rejected a proposal to authorize the monitors to again carry firearms, residents have debated over how to best protect students. Some have argued armed monitors in the schools help prevent school shootings, while others have argued against what they call a “militarization” of schools.

In a statement earlier this week, Kara Rosettie, who helped organize a group of parents who are in favor of re-arming the grounds monitors, said “the addition of only one more SRO for a district with 6,000 students is woefully inadequate.”

In an effort to improve its safety protocols, district officials enlisted a group of experts in the fall to audit safety measures. The consultants recommended adding a second resource officer to cover schools in the district that fall outside city lines.

Saratoga schools are receiving the same cost-sharing deal that Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo struck with other districts across the county: The district pays 75 percent of the tab; the county covers the rest for a resource officer that costs roughly $90,000 a year. For the rest of the school year, the SRO will cost the district $36,000, Manny said.

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