Binghamton calls for more cops in schools

By Perry Russom

March 18, 2014 Updated Mar 19, 2014 at 10:23 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Binghamton City School District is looking to beef up security in their schools.

Already included in next year's budget is money for two police officers in two more buildings: One at East Middle and the other at West Middle.

"Many parents should feel comfortable because they are there," said Binghamton Superintendent, Dr. Marion Martinez.

While they would officially be Binghamton Police officers, the school resource officers' primary job would be working in the two buildings. The school district would pay the officer’s salaries -- at a cost of approximately $100,000 -- while the city would pay for their benefits.

The proposition was brought before City Council Monday night.

Councilman Bill Berg said he'd rather see officers on the streets.

Martinez said issues on the streets make their way into her schools.

"Given the multiple tragedies that have occurred across the country that parents and community feel that if there is someone located in the building, you have that additional blanket of protection," said Martinez.

If the plans come to fruition, the officers would be housed at the schools for the entire school day, leaving an hour after the final bus leaves.

"It's not just about providing a security presence in the school, it's also about relationship building," said Binghamton Mayor Rich David.

Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said the hope is building respect among students and officers, which could eventually lead them away from crime.

"This is going to give the same officer being in the schools, (and it's) going to give the kids a chance to know the officer and vice versa," said Zikuski.

There is already an SRO in the high school. Martinez called that position "highly effective."

If the plan is approved, the two officers selected would go through a week-long course run by the U.S. Justice Department on how to work with the students.

Binghamton City Council has requested to meet with Martinez to go over the plans.