Delaware County driven to raise police presence in schools
Stamford, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Students switching classes at the Stamford County Schools may notice a new "classmate," a Delaware County Sheriff's deputy. It's part of an agreement between the sheriff's office and the district superintendent to get police coverage back into schools after the district lost it's school resource officer several years ago, a program closed by the New York State Police. Delaware County Sheriff Thomas Mills has partnered with Superintendent Katy Graves to establish a sheriff substation in the school. He said having a police officer presence, even part-time, can benefit both a police and the school. "It's creating a close working relationship and just being able to identify all the players when we come into the school," Mills said. Mills said the space is simply a room where deputies can stop, do work, and patrol the school. He said his hope is students and teachers will become familiar with the officers on patrol. "We want to eliminate one of those people they don't know in the law enforcement uniform," Mills said. Superintendent Katy Graves said it doesn't cost the school anything but space to accommodate the officers. "The schools are having to lay off teachers, lay off staff," Graves said. "We have to get creative, we have to share services." Graves said the benefits of having an officer in the school are well worth the cost. "This is a great answer," she said. "This gives us a presence in the building, it gives us a sense of security." It's not just for the sheriff's deputies, the sheriff's office is discussing letting local and state police also use the drop in substations. Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond said the new offices could be the door to educating children about law enforcement. "A lot of children have misconception that we spend most of our day arresting people," DuMond said. "99 percent of our day is spent helping people. And that will reflect in the relationship we build here at the school." Two schools are piloting the program, but DuMond said several other districts have already shown interest since the program started this school year.