By Cheryl Petersen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Steps are being taken by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department to further promote safety within schools. Each of the county’s 15 school districts has been contacted with an offer to enter into a partnership with the Sheriff’s Department. The collaborative effort pledges a consistent police presence on the campus in return for a space in the school building to accommodate a sub-station.
Sub-stations are not new to the Sheriff’s Department. They are indoor work spaces at which police officers can conduct business and complete basic reporting. Sub-stations are equipped with a phone and a computer with Internet access.
Delaware County covers 1,468 square miles. The county has 10 road deputies. To ensure the best policing coverage, “the department already has sub-stations in municipal buildings around the county,” said Delaware County Under-Sheriff Craig DuMond. “Sub-stations allow for law enforcement efficiency.”
“The idea of sub-stations in schools came out of the New York State Sheriff’s Association,” explained DuMond, who attends Association conferences. “It is aimed to address violence in the schools. The idea coincides with Sheriff Tom Mills’ pledge for better public relations.”
Protocol to implement the partnership between the school and Sheriff’s Office is as follows: A representative from the Sheriff’s Department will meet interested school leaders. The leaders than bring the idea before their board of education, which ultimately makes the final decision to move forward.
“The response has been welcoming,” said DuMond.
The schools are required to designate and set up a sub-station within the school facility. Each deputy sheriff will be provided a building-access pass and keys to enable immediate access to the school building, 24/7.
“The deputy sheriff will enter the school a couple of times a week,” said DuMond. “After checking in with the district leaders, the deputy will make building checks and then use the sub-station to fill out reports or communicate by means of phone. While on site, the policing activity in the schools will be appropriate to a school campus. The administrative tasks performed by an officer will not include arrest processing or criminal investigations.
“Stamford School Superintendent, Katy Graves, and the Stamford Board of Education willingly piloted the Sub-Station program,” said DuMond. “Deposit School has also since signed up and other schools are showing an interest.”
Graves said: “Safety is a top priority in the school. Last summer, the school leaders were in the process of updating the school’s emergency plan and immediately saw the value of this partnership with the Sheriff’s Office. We recognize that we are educators while the officers are trained professionals in security.
“We have ample space in the building due to low enrollment, therefore setting up a sub-station was not a problem,” said Graves. “Stamford School entered into an in-kind lease with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department last September.”
“The partnership provides a preventative strategy to violence, plus it advocates a positive interaction between law enforcement and the students,” said Graves. “Once the students realized the officer was invited to the academic setting, they were cool with it.”