Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting is making the push yet again to re-visit the notion of deputies patrolling the halls of area schools with the designation ‘resource officer.’
Following a slew of tragic incidents of school violence — from Sandy Hook to Alton, IL — many districts and municipalities have been quick to make the emotional decision to place full-time law enforcement personnel in the hallways of their buildings.
While Essex County schools have been fortunate thus far, we are not blind enough to think that a tragedy is impossible in our own backyard. However, is a $72,000 county or district-funded price tag the answer to maintaining a safe educational environments for our youth?
In our opinion, the answer is no.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means Committee voted 1458 to 1463 in a weighted vote this week to allow Sheriff Cutting to apply for a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that would pay up to 75 percent of the salary and benefits for four new resource officers for area schools.
The remaining 25 percent of the funding would ultimately be the responsibility of the county.
At a time when the county board has struggled to put a lid on spending, how can an unallocated $72,000 be a feasible request?
In our opinion, it simply is not.
And, what happens to the four new deputies once the COPS grant funding dries up, as it inevitably will? Will the entire cost of the four deputies then have to be born by county taxpayers? We can’t see county lawmakers laying anyone off.
From 1999 to 2003, resource officers patrolled the halls of schools in Ticonderoga, Moriah, Keene, Crown Point, Schroon Lake, Minerva, Newcomb, Westport and Willsboro. Cutting’s request comes with scant statistical information from the past justifying the need for these officers.