Oswego County hiring more school resource officers
To counter the growing national threat of school shootings, the Oswego County Sheriff's Department is working to provide more protection for local school districts for the upcoming school year.
Many school districts in Oswego County partner with local law enforcement to provide a continual police presence in their buildings, but some districts outside of municipalities have not. That's why Christopher Todd, superintendent of CiTi BOCES, which is located outside of Mexico, says they jumped on an offer from the county sheriff's office to arrange for a school resource officer.
"Our campus is much like every other school campus - doors are locked, windows are shut, there are people who greet visitors," Todd said. "There’s obviously the physical security. This is really about having a presence here and to build relationships, to build trust, to be able to foster communication back and forth without them [students] seeing them as an outside, purely law enforcement entity."
Sheriff Don Hilton says he's in talks with several superintendents about the program, which districts can opt into for about $63,000 per officer. He says the number of officers and their duties will vary by district, but the mission remains the same in each.
"Primarily, they are there to enforce law and the safety of campus and also just to develop a relationship with the students," Hilton said. "So if there is a student in need or distress, we’re hoping that a relationship with the students will allow them to approach the officers to tell them either that individual student is having a problem or one of their classmates."
In addition to bringing on more officers, Hilton is coordinating a county-wide active-shooter training that will invovle the majority of the agencies that would be responsible for responding to such an incident, including EMS, the Oswego County Emergency Communications Department, and local fire departments.
"We’re all training together as one group to make sure everybody is on the same page as to how we're going to respond to something like this," Hilton said. "If you study all of these major incidents, the threat itself is over within minutes but the issue is getting EMS in there."