Student Resource Officers in Orchard Park, NY Schools
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Members of Orchard Park School District Board of Education,
We the undersigned parents of children of the school district, members of the community within the school district and employees of the school district request the inclusion of School Resource Officers in the next budget. While our drive to make this request began months ago, the recent events in our nation have made this request even more important and urgent. There is simply nothing more crucial than to protect our children when they are at school. The district has invested in providing a great education and extracurricular activities over many years and that has led to our district being one of the highest rated in the area. Now is the time to continue the many security enhancements the district has undertaken by adding School Resource Officers throughout the district.
In conjunction with the continual security enhancements in each building, the next step is to provide our buildings with an armed member of law enforcement as an School Resource Officer (SRO). This SRO first and foremost would provide an on-site level of security that we currently do not have. While the district has a very close relationship with the Orchard Park Police Department and the response time within the district is swift, there is no argument that an on-site SRO will be able to respond to any emergency much quicker. Not only can they protect the building and all occupants, but they are able to monitor security issues throughout the day and respond to any kind of emergency, security or medical, faster than coming from elsewhere in the community.
While the argument for safety is obvious, there are so many other ways that an SRO in our buildings provides for our children and members of the community. The DARE program has been a resounding success in our elementary level schools. The children that go through this program learn how to say no to poor choices, react to bullying, deal with stress and how to make good decisions that can carry on through their education and life. However, more importantly, they learn that a police officer isn’t scary or an adversary, but rather a person that is here to help them. An SRO can work with DARE and the OPPD to continue the DARE program into middle school. This further enhances the relationship with the community and the police department.
An SRO in the building provides a level of comfort with police authority but is also a deterrent for student misbehavior. As an SRO becomes a part of the individual building’s community the students learn that the officer is there for them, not to wield authority over them. Officers become involved in the students’ lives as a positive role model. The kids therefore don’t want to disappoint the officer just as they don’t want to disappoint a teacher, aide or administrator. For students that lack better decision making skills, knowing that an officer is present all the time may influence them to not make a poor decision such as threatening another student or marking the facility with graffiti. All of these positive experiences then carry over beyond the borders of the building and into the community.
An SRO can assist the teachers in the school by providing additional help in topics such as health and safety, law, forensic science, and gym just to name a few areas of education. The special knowledge of these officers enhances the already top-rate education our students receive.
Beyond the walls of school buildings, an SRO can also assist with the established Orchard Park Youth Court by identifying potential members for the court and let students and families know how to utilize the services provided.
As mentioned previously, there is a great relationship between the district and the OPPD. However, as these SROs are members of the OPPD, they have a more immediate and intimate knowledge of issues occuring throughout the community that may affect the safety of the school. This detailed police incident information can be shared with the appropriate school personnel on a more regular basis so that any potential issues can be prepared for and addressed if needed.
The success of SRO programs throughout the country is strong. What we have outlined above is only a piece of what the program can do for Orchard Park Schools as well as the community at large. With all of the great success the district has had over the years we know that we can also make an SRO program a resounding success beyond the primary objective of securing our schools.
Our request is for an SRO in each building. It only makes sense to secure our buildings equally across the district. However, we also understand the financial implications of the SRO program and even if it is not fiscally possible to implement 6 SROs at the start of the program, the intent should be to reach that goal as soon as fiscally possible. We pledge to work together - parents, community members, employees - with the district, OPPD and town to advocate on behalf of the Orchard Park School District beyond our borders to request outside funding. Further, we pledge to assist in any other way we can to make this a reality in order to protect our future generations.
We submit this letter signed by our original working group members. However, we intend to circulate this letter throughout the district and community to make them aware of our thoughts and to obtain more co-signers to show the broader desire within the community.
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