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Local law enforcement and school officials join forces for schools

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County School Superintendents and Police Chiefs came together Thursday to discuss security measures in schools. The meeting had them looking at the measures they have in place, and coming up with ideas to make their schools safer.

A big topic brought up in a meeting today, getting more resource officers in schools, however those officers cost money.

"There used to be grant funding available to put an officer in the schools and what happened is that grant funding was able to back-fill a position in the agency so that you didn't lose and officer in the street," said Utica Police Chief Mark Williams. "But once that funding went away, sustainability to maintain the officer was gone."

The Utica School District contracts police officers out, paying them a flat rate without losing manpower on the street. Chief Williams says he suggested this idea to other districts at Thursdays meeting but the idea still costs money, money many districts don't have.

Could other funding come schools' way? The chief says maybe, seeing how much the recent Sandy Hook Tragedy shook the nation.

"We feel that some point down the road in the near future we'll probably see some federal and state money provide funding to put officers back in schools," said Chief Williams.

Arming school principals has been brought up following the Connecticut School Shooting. Chief Williams said he'd rather schools leave it to the professionals.

"Most of our crime guns, you know where they come from? Guns that are stolen from legal gun owners and my worry is that they may not take the same safeguards as law enforcement does with their weapons and may not have the same training," said Chief Williams.

School and law enforcement officials plan to form a committee to further discuss options for looking to sustainable security options in schools.

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