Oriskany, N.Y. - Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol is the First Vice President of the New York State Sheriff's Association, which sent out a letter on Thursday urging state lawmakers to find money in the budget to pay for having at least one armed officer in every school in the state.
Maciol says he and the other sheriffs from across the state will be heading to Albany in the coming weeks, "We have an upcoming lobby day with the legislators, where all the sheriffs are going to take a trip to Albany together and meet with our elected officials."
We caught up with some of those elected officials on Friday to get their view on whether this funding for mandated school resource officers could be found in the upcoming 2018-2019 budget.
Right now only those districts who pay to have school resource officers in their schools have them.
Senator James Seward of Milford says he is all for finding that funding, "That would be a great deterrent for anyone who would think to go to the schools and commit these heinous acts and if an incident did occur that they would be on the scene and be able to handle the situation."
Assemblyman Marc Butler of Newport says there's nothing more important than keeping kids safe, "You go to the Federal Building or another governmental building there are all kind of checks on the way in, and the Capitol there are. I think it can be done, I think it can be done with technology and perhaps in school professional guards."
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica says this discussion about school resource officer funding should be the legislature's top priority, "I think it's a good thing to have school resource officers. I've seen it firsthand being on the school board here in the City of Utica where schools have school resource officers and many schools can't afford to do that. But certainly in terms of safety, we want to make sure that is priority number one for schools and it's something we have to look at."
Assemblyman Brain Miller of New Hartford says it may be hard to find the funding, but it's something he believes should be done, "Some schools have them, some schools don't because of the budgets, but I really feel it's something that we should put in the budget this year and it needs a lot of conversation. We've got five weeks to get it in there, I'm pretty sure that we can probably make it happen."
We also caught up with Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES District Superintendent Howard Mettelman on Friday. He says he too will be talking with area legislators over the coming weeks during the upcoming budget process to let them know how important school resource officers are.
He says at the OHM BOCES Facility in New Hartford there have been school resource officers on duty for about the past decade, "They are throughout the building, which is a great opportunity for students to have not only the ability to see them visibly, but the ability to have contact with them."
Mettleman says sadly it also may be time to have armed officers stationed at the main entry point or points of a school and maybe even have metal detectors at those points, "I always felt that we certainly would hope that that wouldn’t be necessary, yet I think as things change we have to be prepared to adapt and adopt some new belief systems and some new structures."
The state legislative session begins on Tuesday. The budget is due by April 1st.