Sheriff wants to bolster ranks of school resource officers

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 4:44 PM EST
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County’s sheriff proposes stationing armed deputies in schools that want them. It’s the latest proposal for bolstering the ranks of school resource officers.

“First and foremost is the safety of the students. Any active shooter, we want to have a first responder on the scene,” said Brooks Bigwarfe, county sheriff.

Generally, only school districts in municipalities with their own police forces have school resource officers, or SROs for short. But now, rural districts such as Hermon-DeKalb and Edwards-Knox have expressed interest.

“We see throughout the United States some of the schools that are having issues with violence are the rural schools,” said Bigwarfe.

Schools would pay an estimated $110,000 per year for the service. Officers would also educate and build relationships. It would be available to all schools. Massena, Canton, Potsdam and Ogdensburg have all had SROs from local police departments at various times.

Ogdensburg schools have been without an SRO so far this school year. Next year’s city budget includes the position. District Superintendent Kevin Kendall says school and city will be talking soon.

“We’ve actually embraced that SRO as a member of our school district community … as a means to create and foster a relationship between the Ogdensburg Police Department and its staff and students,” said Kendall.

The St. Lawrence County Legislature is expected to vote on a measure authorizing the sheriff’s program on January 3.

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