Oneida County is committing more resources to keep local schools and the community safer, including $500,000 for special patrol officers in local school districts.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced the five new initiatives Tuesday at his office in Utica.
Local school superintendents filled Picente’s conference room Tuesday for the announcement that $500,000 will be used to create and help pay for special patrol officer positions in school districts that don’t currently have them, but want to add them. There are 81 school buildings within Oneida County.
“The safety of our school children is paramount and I applaud County Executive Picente for committing funding to provide more Special Patrol Officers through my office to our local schools,” Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol said in a news release. “The model we have in place in the Whitesboro Central School District has proved successful and it should be expanded throughout the county.
Another initiative announced Tuesday includes implementing three sheriff’s deputies and an armed Oneida County Probation officer to accompany caseworkers with the Oneida County Department of Social Services on their home visits. Caseworkers will also be issued new smartphones with emergency notifications and GPS location to ensure they’re safe on home visits.
Picente also announced four new 911 dispatcher positions will be created at Oneida County Emergency Services to assist with high call volume, and a program coordinator position will be created within the Department of Emergency Services to develop community safety plans and emergency service protocols.
“This is how you respond to issues,” Picente said. “You don't issue press releases, you don't issue statements about just things you're going to look at. You actually take action.”
“We are going to use what we have in front of us to deal with these issues. We're not going to wait for Washington, we're not going to wait for Albany.”
Any county initiatives involving money and new positions must go to the Oneida County Board of Legislators for their approval. The Board is expected to take it up next month.