Oneida County Special Patrol Officers to Secure Utica City Schools
Picente Announces SPOs Will Protect All 10 Utica Elementary Schools
Utilizing funding made available by Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., the Utica City School District will soon join seven other school districts that have County Special Patrol Officers securing their buildings.
As part of the $500,000 Picente made available in April to assist local school districts to increase safety and security, the Utica City School District has hired 20 Special Patrol Officers through the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. One officer will be stationed at each of the district’s 10 elementary schools at any given time. They are expected to assume duty next month.
“Today the students, parents, faculty and staff of the Utica City School District can rest a little easier knowing that highly-trained and armed retired law enforcement officers will be stationed in each elementary school with the sole purpose of protecting that facility from outside harm,” Picente said. “When I first announced I was making this funding available to our school districts, I did so because I felt it was essential for someone to take action against the seemingly never-ending stream of school shootings and violence. It brings me great comfort to know that our County’s largest school district is now a more secure place.”
“The safety and security of our students and staff has always been, and continues to be a top priority of the Utica City School District,” said Utica City School District Superintendent Bruce J. Karam. “As a school district, we have always looked for ways to enhance our safety and security measures. With that being said, we are excited to announce a great new partnership between the Utica City School District and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office to place Special Patrol Officers in all of our elementary school buildings. The deployment of these Special Patrol Officers will greatly enhance the overall security of our buildings.”
“I would like to thank County Executive Picente, Sheriff Maciol, School Board President Louis LaPolla and our entire Board of Education for their vision and leadership in making this partnership a reality for the safety of our students and staff,” Karam added.
“The safety and security of our students is of utmost importance to the School District,” said Utica City School Board President Louis LaPolla. “Visibility of police personnel is a deterrent to crime and their presence in our schools helps us achieve these goals. On behalf of the school board we appreciate the efforts of the County Executive and Sheriff to establish a working relationship with the School District at a cost bearable and beneficial to the district.”
“Our children deserve to feel safe at school and this can only be achieved through collaboration and strong partnerships,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri. “I commend County Executive Picente, Sheriff Maciol and Superintendent Karam for their proactive leadership on this most important issue.”
With the inclusion of the Utica City School District, there will be 50 SPOs dispersed throughout eight school districts in Oneida County. The officers are assigned and paid through the Sheriff’s Office. It costs roughly $19,000 to fund each part-time SPO.
Per Picente’s initiative, the county matches half of that cost with each participating school district and picks up the additional $4,000 start-up cost for officer uniforms and equipment. The Oneida County Board of Legislators fully backed the measure, approving the $500,000 allocation and the creation of the new positions.
“I am glad the Utica City School District has chosen to hire our office’s SPOs in order to further secure its elementary schools,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol. “Our children are our most precious resource and I applaud the County Executive for his commitment to making our schools safer places to learn and grow. I am proud to be a part of these efforts and to play a role in protecting the future of this community.”
The breakdown of the current school district SPOs are as follows:
• Utica City School District: 20
• Whitesboro Central School District: 14
• Camden Central School District: 4
• Westmoreland Central School District: 4
• Clinton Central School District: 2
• New York Mills Union Free School District: 2
• Waterville Central School District: 2
• Sauquoit Valley Central School District: 2
Other school districts are at various stages of solidifying agreements with the County for SPOs. The Rome, New Hartford and Oriskany school districts have arrangements worked out with their respective police departments to provide security and/or School Resource Officers, as does Utica with its high school and middle schools.
The Sheriff’s Office also has 20 SPOs assigned at non-school posts to provide security to other county locations including the County Office Building and Union Station in Utica, the Centralized Arraignment Court in Whitestown and the Department of Social Services and Family Court facilities in Rome.
It also provides five total School Resource Officers for educational and counseling purposes to the Holland Patent and Westmoreland Central School Districts and Oneida-Herkimer-Madison and Madison-Oneida BOCES.