Potsdam Central decides to hire retired officer in partnership with village police
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 6:06 pm

By MATT LINDSEY

POTSDAM -- The Potsdam Central School Board of Education has decided to pursue hiring a retired officer in partnership with Potsdam Village Police, according to school spokesperson Rebekah Grimm.

The board allocated the funds in the budget April 9 at a special budget meeting.

“After nearly a year of research, community outreach, and multiple listening and discussion sessions, the Potsdam Central School District's Board of Education has decided to move forward with hiring a school resource officer,” Grimm said.

However, the officer will be much more than a security guard. He or she will be a retired police officer and receive specialized training. The person will “possess necessary communication skills to function effectively within the school environment, and act as a role model and confidant to students,” school officials said.

The board and Superintendent Joann Chambers say that “much attention will be given to finding a person whose personality and temperament fit the needs for Potsdam Central and its students.”

The in-school police officer must be employed by a police agency, which is why Potsdam is partnering with village police. A retired officer would be reinstated by the department with peace officer status and employed by the department as a special patrolman, officials said.

The designated salary is $30,000, which is included in next year¹s budget that was approved by voters last night.

“Over the course of the last year, community forums, surveys, individual conversations and comments from parents and the public were all critically important to the board’s decision and will ultimately help guide the SRO position in the future,” Chambers said. “We are committed to transparency and shared decision making, and are confident that we will find the right person for this job.”

In April, a survey of Potsdam school staff members revealed that 80 percent of respondents supported this addition. In a similar survey, 63 percent of responding parents of students said they would support the measure, according to PCS officials.

The idea for this new position first came from a school board member in August 2017. The district¹s goal for implementing the in-school officer is “to bolster its proactive approach to school safety,” officials said.

At two separate community forums, Potsdam Central School administrators presented an overview of the many safety plans, procedures, and infrastructure already in place in the district. The in-school law enforcement presence is meant to be one more added safety measure.