The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people — students and teachers — had a ripple effect across the country and locally, as school districts hired resource officers to prevent such a tragedy from happening here.
Schools in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties contracted with local sheriff’s offices to hire part-time officers. They are mostly retired police officers who are able to earn up to $30,000 and continue collecting their pension.
Hadley-Luzerne was among the first local districts to take the plunge by hiring Mort Keane, who is a retired New York City police officer and also worked for the Bolton Police Department. The district’s decision already has paid dividends, as Keane performed the Heimlich maneuver on Brandon Allen, a school monitor/security officer, who was choking.
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Glens Falls school officials preferred to have an officer assigned full time to the district. After months of negotiations, the Common Council approved an agreement in which the school district will pay the city $92,400 to cover the cost of officer John Norton. He will not only provide security but be a liaison to staff, parents and youth on safety issues, serve as a role model to students and school officials, revise school emergency crisis plans and provide individual counseling or mentoring to students, according to his job description. Norton starts on Jan. 3.
The school resource officers are not there just to provide security but also to build a relationship with students. Mark Stewart, the school resource officer for South Glens Falls, was quoted in a September Post-Star article saying that “information is key” and his role is to get students to trust him.