Winner: Budget Cuts Cannot Compromise School Safety

George Winner

February 05, 2010

Albany, N.Y., January 29 –State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) said today that he’ll be urging the new Democratic leadership of the state Senate to follow the lead of Republicans when they held control of the chamber in 2008 and immediately reject a proposal to reassign nearly 100 New York State Troopers currently working as “school resource officers” (SROs) in schools across New York.

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer attempted a similar move two years ago and was met with swift and strong opposition from Winner and other Senate Republicans.  The proposal was subsequently left out of the final 2008-2009 state budget.

In his 2010-2011 proposed budget, Governor David Paterson has again proposed to reassign 90 SROs statewide.

“One responsibility you never turn your back on is safe schools,” said Winner. “This proposal lacks common sense.  It threatens the security, safety and quality of our schools.  It should immediately be rejected by legislative leaders.”  

Winner said that he will also continue to urge New York’s federal representatives to provide aid for SROs, as recently suggested by area Congressman Eric Massa.

In 2008, Winner was an outspoken opponent of the reassignment of SROs locally and across New York.  He reminded colleagues throughout that year’s budget negotiations that a March 2008 incident at the Greater Southern Tier BOCES campus involving Trooper Pat Stickler, the school resource officer, underscored the need to reject the proposed reassignment.

Winner was referring to a March 14, 2008 incident in which Richard Lindsay of North Hornell attacked his estranged wife outside the BOCES campus in Coopers Plains.  After ramming his wife’s minivan with a U-Haul truck, Lindsay dragged her out of the overturned vehicle and attacked her with the butt end of an assault rifle.  Stickler, with the assistance of two school administrators, stopped the attack, disarmed Lindsay and brought him into custody with no shots being fired. 

“If Trooper Stickler had not been there, I don’t even want to imagine the tragedy that could have unfolded,” said Winner.  

At a legislative hearing in Albany in February 2008, Winner said that State Police officials made a compelling case for the critical role that State Trooper SROs play in ensuring a safe learning environment, as well as in fighting crime in local communities. In that school year alone, State Police SROs responded to more than 2,500 criminal calls, made over 1,000 arrests and confiscated nearly 100 illegal weapons.  It was further noted that SROs intervened to prevent more than 170 potential suicides and regularly act as mentors to troubled students.