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Resource officers, security help to keep Utica Schools safe for students

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In response to Monday's high school shooting in Chardon, Ohio NEWSChannel2 met up with Utica School's Security and Utica Safe Schools Directors, to whom taking precautions is nothing new. For over a decade, Utica Schools have put school resource officers and programs in schools to keep students safe.

"We've started a program with school resource officers ...right now we have a complement of 12 resource officers that are deployed in Utica City School District," says Director of Security for Utica City Schools John Syrotynski.

Syrotynski says in addition to officers, they have installed cameras, and dramatically reduced the number of entries in schools.

"Take for instance Proctor High School, where right now we have 84 different doors, we've narrowed it down to four,"says Syrotynski.

In 2000, Utica received a grant to start the nonprofit Safe Schools, Healthy Students, and since then has provided students with programs to prevent and also cope with tragedies.

"My staff are all trained to deal with grief and loss, to teach kids pro-social skills," says Utica Safe Schools Executive Director Anne Lansing. "We do aggression, we do a lot with bullying prevention and teach kids about that, we also work very closely with security."

Lansing says it's the open dialogue between Utica Safe Schools, Utica's Police Department, and the schools that make their security so unique.

"When you've got officers in the building during the day whatever they hear they can take with them in the streets so if they know there's been talk of a fight that's going to happen they'll go watch that area," says Lansing. "Or if something happens on campus the night before they know about it and are able to work with district the next day."

Lansing and Syrotynski say the effective communication and school resource officers force of Utica School's security has made it a security role model for many districts across the state.

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