In the aftermath of the school shootings in Connecticut last week, Putnam County officials from law enforcement, school districts, and other governmental agencies held their first meeting Tuesday to address security issues at schools and other public facilities.
Putnam County’s Brewster sits about 19 miles from Newtown, Connecticut. And the Brewster Central School District has two elementary schools. One houses kindergarten through grade two; the other, grades three, four, and five. Dr. Jane Sandbank is the superintendent of the Brewster Central School District, and she, along with the others at the meeting, agree that focusing on having school resource officers for the elementary schools is a priority.
She says the county funds fifty percent of the cost, while the rest is up to the school districts. She notes the middle and high schools do have SROs. She is urging the New York State senator and assemblyman who represent Brewster to attend Board of Education meetings, and advocate for her district in Albany to help secure funding for the SRO program.
Thomas Manko is the superintendent of the Mahopac Central School District, Putnam’s largest. He says increased security is certainly on the minds of administrators and parents.
Putnam County Sheriff Department Captain Gary Hosmer says, yes, the increased police presence during pickup and drop-off times will go through this Friday, before the holiday break, but there is no certainty as to what form any increased security will take come January.
Brewster Schools Superintendent Dr. Sandbank says she put a link on the district Web site Tuesday for parent feedback, and questions and answers, and there have already been hundreds of responses. She says keeping the information flow is important, as is telling kids their schools here are safe.
Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith said he’ll look to the federal level, for grants for community-policing programs. And in the meantime, the meetings among various stakeholders in the county will continue. He described Putnam County as one of the safest counties in America, with one of the safest school districts, not unlike Newtown, Connecticut.
Wednesday, across the Hudson River in Orange County, leaders will hold a similar meeting on security measures.