Albany- New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio today announced that he and his Senate colleagues have successfully rejected plans to eliminate the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program and redeploy 92 State Troopers from their positions in schools across the State. The final 2008-2009 State Budget provides for all 92 SROs to remain on their current assignments, adopting a measure from the Senate’s budget resolution.
“This is a momentous agreement for the thousands of students, parents, and educators whose lives have been made safer by these officers’ presence in their communities,” said Senator Nozzolio. “The outpouring of support I received for the SRO program truly indicates that these officers are succeeding at their mission. I would like to personally thank every constituent who voiced their concern and shared with me their personal accounts of how a School Resource Officer helped them. This victory could not have been achieved without their efforts.”
Under former-Governor Spitzer’s proposal, the New York State Troopers currently working as School Resource Officers would have been reassigned to work on Operation IMPACT, a crime reduction program that is focused on the urban areas in our State. The agreement reached during budget negotiations will allow some School Resource Officers to be temporarily redeployed to Operation IMPACT during the summer months when school is not in session.
“As a longtime advocate for stronger law enforcement, I strongly support Operation IMPACT, but our rural communities should not be neglected through budget cuts,” said Senator Nozzolio. “I am pleased that the final budget was able to provide for the fight against gang and drug crime in our cities without leaving our local schools vulnerable to the same problems.”
School Resource Officers are specially trained uniformed State Troopers assigned to schools to provide law enforcement and student counseling services. Last year, SROs responded to over 2,526 criminal calls including over 100 sexual offenses and 38 bomb threats. SROs were also responsible for confiscating 20 firearms and 77 other weapons in schools.
As a result of the strong involvement between SROs and students, the SRO program has been credited with solving a number of crimes in and out of schools, including a Columbine-style attack that three teenagers had planned on a Dutchess County school.
When news broke about the proposal to end the SRO program, the public outcry in the law enforcement and education communities was tremendous. At a public hearing on the issue, State Police officials made a compelling case regarding the critical role SROs play in ensuring a safe learning environment. Senator Nozzolio received thousands of letters from teachers, school superintendents, parents, and students calling on him to save the program.
“School Resource Officers do much more than prevent crime. These officers know the students in their schools on a first-name basis and have established positive relationships within their communities. Governor Paterson deserves credit for recognizing the value of this essential program, and I thank all of my colleagues in the Senate Majority who stood with me to protect our children’s wellbeing,” concluded Nozzolio.