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SCSD to continue Special Police Officer program in city schools

Syracuse City School District

The Syracuse City School District will work with the city’s police department to hire and train 20 special patrol officers through the 2023-2024 academic year. This is an amendment to a previous agreement that placed officers in school through this August.

After advocating for a program like this, Syracuse City School District Director of Public Safety Thomas Ristoff is excited about what it means for student safety.

“This is really something that I’ve been working on for several years, it's nice to see it come to fruition,” Ristoff said.

The officers will be known as Community Safety Agents in city schools. Different from a School Resource Officer, the agents will have more flexible schedules and act as more of a liaison between law enforcement and staff and students. Ristoff said they just offer another layer of protection in schools.

“The whole idea is that you have another caring adult within that school building that has that law enforcement training,” Ristoff said. “It’s really to protect against external threats.”

Ristoff said the program is an extra level of protection designed to keep students and faculty safe and worry-free.

“It will give us that next level of safety so a kid can come to school, know that nothing is going to happen in school, go about their day, be their best self, learn as much as they can and move forward,” Ristoff said. “That’s our goal.”

Ristoff said similar programs have had success in nearby school districts like Westhill and Central Square.

The next step for the program in Syracuse will be the hiring process which will include interviews with school and law enforcement officers.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.