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Greece Police respond to story on no school resource officers

Posted at: 01/21/2013 10:57 AM
Updated at: 01/21/2013 7:54 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Police officers in our schools, it makes all feel better about the safety of our children. But News10NBC is finding out why there are no school resource officers in Greece schools.  The police say they are concerned they're missing out on tips they used to get.

News10NBC wants to know why the officers were pulled.

Police were getting tipped off about pending fights or house parties that were coming up. The kind of information they could use to stop bad things from happening.
And they're worried their pipeline to that information is cut off right now.

Lieutenant Jason Helfer, Greece Police, said, “There is not an official school resource officer program this year.”

News10NBC spoke with Lieutenant Jason Helfer. He says school resource officers would often get tipped off by students and staff.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “Are you missing information that kids would ordinarily give to an school resource officer that they're not giving now, or you're not getting now?”

Lt. Jason Helfer, Greece Police, said, “I'm not sure there's any proven incidents where we are missing something, but I can certainly say when we did have the program when we did have officers there on a regular basis that we were able to develop a rapport with students, teachers and parents as well.”

The resource officer were pulled from Greece schools in October because they weren't getting paid by the district. The district was negotiating with the town over how to pay for the program. News10NBC talked to Ed Knaak, the head of security for Greece schools.

Knaak, Greece Central School District security, said, “What we're trying to do is a different model where we have a full time school resource officer so it would be the same person available to us everyday.”

That's still not in place, but it's not like there's no police presence. Arcadia is down the road from police headquarters. Athena is just a few miles away and there's a Greece police precinct less than two miles from Olympia and Odyssey.

Lt. Helfer said, “If there's even the slightest inkling that there is a problem developing between students, or intelligence or rumors, we address them quickly and swiftly.”

Greece Police officers are told to patrol school parking lots and hallways on their down time. News10NBC spoke to the chief briefly and he said they probably have the same number of officer hours inside the schools this year than any other year. It's just not an organized presence that was helpful to them at least in terms of getting information from students.
     
Here is the story that aired Friday night on News10NBC.

President Obama made safety of our children a top priority. This week, he announced he has a proposal that, if passed, will fund resource officers in schools, if a district wants them.

Right now, resource officers are in many schools, but not every one. With word of this new plan, News10NBC wanted to know would they make a school safer? We went to one district who had to pull them this year due to lack of funding.

The Greece Central School District says they would place a bid for the funding President Obama mentioned if it becomes available. In years past, they have had resources officers in schools, but this year that changed mainly because of the budget. The removal saves the district $70,000 to 100,000 a school year. While the funding would help, the district says they aren't positive it will really happen.

Edward Knaak, Supervisor of Security at Greece Central School District, said, "I find it hard to believe that they could fund enough people for every school in this country, it's not going to happen."

But that doesn't mean the Greece Central School District doesn't want to see it happen. On Friday afternoon, News10NBCe went to district to talk to them about safety. This year, mainly, cause of the budget, the district changed the role of resource officers.

Knaak said, "What's different this year is we don't have the school resource officers in our buildings as regularly as we did."

It went from having 25 officers monitoring different schools to district security in schools and calling police in when needed. This is a temporary plan.

Knaak said, "Basically what we are trying to do is do a different model where we have a full time school resource officer, so it'd be the same person that would be available to us everyday."

As News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri spoke to Edward Knaak, the supervisor of security for the district, they spoke about if this cut has changed security.

Ciavarri said, "Are schools less safe now that resource officers aren't there as frequently as before?"

Knaak said, "Everything is about timing. We have fights in our schools when police are there. We have fights in our school when police aren't there. But the main objective that any school needs to do is detect any threatening behavior before it happens in the school."

Ciavarri said, "There is this perception is reality, so when these officers may not be in school some parents may perceive that the reality is  that it's not as safe, but you're saying that's not the case?

Knaak said, "You know, for our police department they are just a couple minutes away. This is not like a rural police department where they are 15 minutes away. And most of our schools are on main drags so there may be cars driving by. We try and give them plenty of lead time if we feel there may be something that is going to happen."

The system is temporary in Greece. Right now, a consulting firm is looking into security at the district to find ways they can improve and change.