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EDITORIAL: An SRO would be a friend, not foe

— For many, the picture of a police officer is that of trouble, conjuring images of arrests, convictions and the classic striped jail uniform. The good that is done in the community, the focus on bringing the bad off the streets and helping, more than hindering, is an image not seen as often.

Perhaps it’s the former image many Fayetteville-Manlius parents are seeing, as they voice their opposition to a school resource officer in F-M schools. The SRO is typically a paid member of the town’s police force, but is assigned to the school.

About 40 percent of OCM-BOCES schools employ an SRO.

A task force is collaborating to decide what is best for safety in the schools, though Superintendent Korliss Kaiser has said there is no “clear support” for an SRO.

Those in opposition to a school resource officer say an officer with a gun in the school’s halls wouldn’t be beneficial, but the Manlius Police Department advocates for helping students with the issues of drug and alcohol abuse, and bullying.

Should the plan for an SRO be financially feasible, all local school districts should consider putting an officer into their halls. Not for safety sake, but for the community.

Seeing a police officer on a daily basis and having an in-house representative for the police department is a win-win-win for the schools, students and police force. Students can have a healthy relationship with police authority, helping in the community should a problem arise. Should students see a more positive police presence, problems in the future can be avoided. Respect for police work will go a long way in the community, particularly as youth violence and crime is on a steady rise.

Police can be kept more abreast of situations concerning younger generations, including prevalent problems surrounding the Internet. Problems facing students can be learned about in conferences and training sessions, but it’s another thing to hear, and see, first-hand the issues school children are facing.

And the school can benefit from having instant access to an arm of the law, both for disciplinary and educational purposes. Teaching students about how the law works, why it exists and when it can be used will be beneficial for educators. An emergency plan will naturally include police response, which can be greatly strengthened by an in-house officer.

Schools can focus on keeping the kids in playgrounds, not prisons. Building healthy relationships with police officers is pivotal to that goal.

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