Picente Announces Community Safety Initiatives

$500,000 Committed for School Special Patrol Officers; Emergency Services Positions & New DSS Safeguards Created

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced today several initiatives aimed at strengthening community safety.

The multifaceted approach was introduced last month during Picente’s State of the County Address, and the action taken today will help to improve safety in local schools and within the community through funding and departmental changes within Oneida County government.

“The safety of our community is of the utmost importance and the action to strengthen it must be swift and precise,” Picente said. “The initiatives I am announcing today will result in immediate results and help to fortify us from a multitude of threats and to respond more efficiently in the event of a crisis.”

Picente’s announcement included:

  • $500,000 to create and help pay for Special Patrol Officers positions in school districts that wish to add them to their facilities.
  • The addition of four new Oneida County Emergency Services 911 dispatcher positions to assist with high call volume.
  • The creation of a Program Coordinator position within the county Department of Emergency Services to develop community safety plans and emergency services protocols.
  • The embedding three Oneida County Sheriff’s deputies and an armed Oneida County Probation officer to accompany county Department of Social Services caseworkers on home visits.
  • The issuance of new smartphones to all DSS caseworkers which are equipped with emergency notification and GPS location capabilities to ensure their safety on visits.

“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,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol. “The model we have in place in the Whitesboro Central School District has proved successful and it should be expanded throughout the county.

“The Sheriff’s Office also has a long history of working side-by-side with the Department of Social Services, and I am happy that we will be further ensuring the safety of caseworkers by having deputies accompany them as they perform their duties on home visits.”

Kevin Revere, Oneida County Emergency Services Director: “The staff of the 911 Center is appreciative for the continued support from the County Executive and the Board of Legislators to help ensure public safety. His plan to help coordinate and standardize school, child care and health care facility safety programs is critical to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We can and will do more to make Oneida County a better place to live.

The first step in public safety is a 911 call. The challenging times we live in whereby multiple agencies with varying levels of jurisdiction often make it hard for dispatchers process the inundation of calls that occur when a crisis arises. Even ‘quiet’ days at the 911 Center provide challenges that very few can appreciate. Additional staff at the 911 Center will be dedicated to answering calls as quickly as possible and sending help where it’s needed.”

Colleen Fahy-Box, Oneida County Department of Social Services Interim Commissioner: “Those employed in the human services field must often work with people under duress or experiencing challenging circumstance and usually in environments that are difficult to control. Safety is a significant factor in recruitment and retention of qualified staff and in the ability to insure the provision of necessary services to vulnerable populations. I am pleased that the County Executive has made this critical investment in technology and personnel that will support the retention of valuable staff while promoting community wide safety particularly as it relates to society’s most valuable future asset – our children.”

Howard Mettelman, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES District Superintendent: “We greatly appreciate the support and leadership of County Executive Picente. His initiatives focus on the development of a strong emergency management communication network, the opportunity to collaborate with the county to increase safety personnel in our schools and county support to improve our emergency management and safety plans. We appreciate his steadfast commitment to the safety of our students our schools and our communities.”