The Syracuse City School District is entering into a three-year agreement with the city of Syracuse, in which the district will pay for any additional school resource officers. But having police officers in the schools is still a contentious issue among some of the stakeholders.
In the past, the arrangement has been that the school district paid for five police officers and the city paid for four officers to be in the high schools, according to Syracuse Police First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile. Under the new agreement, the district will pay for however many more officers are needed. Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens said the city is ready to deploy as many officers to the school district as feasibly possible.
“This agreement lets them determine how many beyond the five they need in their schools," Owens said. "So, if there’s another school that may not be a high school, that we may need to have an officer in, the school district can make that determination.”
Some Syracuse residents, like Misse Ross have expressed concern about having police officers in schools.
“I wish we would spend the money maybe hiring, not police officers, but security guards instead,” Ross said.
Last year, an officer was accused of using excessive force on a 14-year-old student at Nottingham High School. That officer was cleared of any wrong doing by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office. But he was removed from the school, which Jeffrey Piedmonte, president of the police union, blamed on Superintendent Jaime Alicea, calling it an overreaction.
“I’m for the schools being safe," Piedmonte said. "What I have a problem with, is the superintendent not supporting the police, and not supporting what we’re there to do, which is to enforce the laws. When we have to enforce the laws, sometimes it doesn’t look pretty.”
Piedmonte said if officers aren't being supported in schools, then they shouldn’t be there at all. He said officers can patrol the neighborhoods and respond when needed.