District given cost of adding an officer

The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education discussed the possible addition of a school resource officer to the district with city police Chief Marc Porter Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education continued the discussion surrounding the possible addition of a school resource officer as a means to improve security in the district during Monday’s board meeting.

City police Chief Marc Porter was present to continue the conversation with the school board regarding the possible addition of a school resource officer to serve the school district that was first discussed at the Feb. 26 meeting.

Porter prepared a cost summary for the district to share a single resource officer among the five school buildings that he submitted to GESD Superintendent of Schools Robert DeLilli Friday. Porter said that he approached the estimate conservatively using the highest salary figures based on 2018 contracts for police ranks that are eligible to hold that position.

The only ranks eligible for the position would be a patrolman police officer rank or a detective. Porter said that a detective’s salary is approximately 13 percent higher than a patrolman’s. DeLilli said that the cost estimate provided by Porter for a detective’s salary was approximately $80,000 per year including benefits.

According to Porter, if the school district deployed a school resource officer beginning in the fall for the 2018-19 school year, the officer’s contract would be in place until Dec. 31, when it would be renegotiated. Porter said that he could not speculate as to how an officer’s salary might change in 2019.

If the school board decides to move ahead, Porter said that September is the earliest that he would be able to provide an officer. Porter told the board last month that the Gloversville Police Department added four officers in 2017 and would be required to remain at the current staffing levels for the next three years.

In order to maintain that staffing level, Porter would seek to reassign one of the current officers to the district during the school year rather than hire an additional officer.

Porter said he would not be able to reassign an officer any earlier than September as he does not currently have any officers on staff that are trained in that capacity and the next training session is scheduled for August.

He added that three of the police department’s new hires are currently attending the police academy and are set to graduate in July. Porter noted that those positions were added to help the department handle the station’s current call volume.

“To pull those officers from those platoons, we have four platoons, and put them in all the schools doesn’t really put us any further ahead with what we’re dealing with on the street,” Porter said.

If established, the resource officer would work eight hour shifts during the weekday school hours. When asked by board of education member Vincent Salvione if there was any benefit to hiring a detective over a patrolman, Porter said that detectives already work eight hour shifts and have training as juvenile officers possibly making the transition to the school setting smoother.

He added that the juvenile training could be provided to any incoming officers at the school district and the interview process for the position would be tailored to find the right person.

“So we’re looking at one individual and we have five buildings, I’m just wondering what your thoughts are as to where would be the best place for this person to be located,” GESD Board of Education member Paula Brown-Weinstock said.

Porter said initially he would suggest making an assessment based on the department’s documented calls to the schools to see where city police currently spend the most time. From there district officials and police could discuss where the officer would be most effective while sharing the resource among buildings.

“I think from a parent’s perspective if I were to hear that there’s a resource officer at the middle school, although maybe intuitively that makes sense, but I’ve got a child Boulevard: ‘My child is just as important as any child up at the middle school, why don’t you have somebody at Boulevard,’ ‘I’ve got a child at Kingsborough, why don’t you…'”Brown-Weinstock said.

“I’m really concerned from the community’s perspective in having one, how one resource officer is really going to put people at ease, because I think that’s what people are looking for. They’re looking to be put at ease with the knowledge that there is an armed officer in the building,” she said.

The other board members agreed that it was a concern, noting that the district has to start somewhere.

“The big goal, I think is to get one in every school if at all possible. If we and the city can make that happen, great,” Salvione said. “There is no quick fix. We’re not going to get it fixed overnight, but again you’ve got to start someplace.”

Porter noted that he and the district could discuss placement of the officer if the position is created, possibly placing the individual in a different building each day or varying the location depending on the day to day activities planned at each school.

He pointed out that Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino is currently seeking funding from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for a single resource officer to be shared across the seven school districts in the county.

“I’m looking at starting at one and seeing what level of success we have. I’m also trying to do this without having to hire additional personnel between now and September,” Porter said.

Porter explained that any new hires made for the school district could not be trained before the start of 2018-19 school year as the next police academy commences in July and details surrounding vacation time for the schools and any resource officers would need to be worked out.

Porter said that he would not force the officer to limit their use of vacation or personal time to school breaks, adding that he probably could not do so under collective bargaining agreements. While school is out for the summer, Porter said he would likely seek to have any resource officers return to the department for normal police duty during the station’s peak season for call volume.

With the board’s prompting, Porter said he could explore having a second officer trained so that someone would be available to fill in if the full time resource officer was going to be out for an extended period of time. He informed the board that the training course is 40 hours long and if there is a fee it is nominal. The expense is typically the cost of the officers salary for attending.

At the board’s request, Porter said that he could research possible grants for funding the position through the DOJ.

The members of the school board voiced their support to Porter for creating the school resource officer position. Porter said that he has a meeting with Mayor Dayton King scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the position and possible next steps.

Following preliminary discussions Porter suggested that the school board make a formal request regarding the position to the Common Council and the city either in writing or through a presentation at a council meeting.

“What I think would be most appropriate is if we had that request from the school district, then we can sort of respond to that,” Porter said. “Just something that shows that it’s not just the chief offering to do this, there’s a reason behind it, and what those reasons and the support from the school district is.”

GESD Board of Education President Robert Curtis and DeLilli agreed to provide a request from the school district. The school board did not take any action during the meeting.