7News - WKBW.com
Troopers to be cut from class
By Melanie Pritchard
Parents across New York have new worries tonight about the safety of their
children in school. That's because nearly 100 state troopers that patrol the
hallways in dozens of school districts are about to be reassigned under a
plan by Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Trooper Chris Pyc spends his day talking with students in Grand Island. He's
been the School Resource Officer here for six years. "I teach classes,
provide law enforcement response here to the schools," said Pyc.
Governor Spitzer's plan to redeploy troopers from schools to high crime
areas has district officials worried. "God forbid that something should
happen in a school where Governor Spitzer has removed the SRO," said
Grand Island Central School District Superintendent Robert Christmann.
7 News met with five district leaders from Western New York, all of whom
share the same concerns -- that the lessons of Columbine and other school
shootings may be forgotten. "We are na´ve think that if that visual
doesn't wake you up to think that it can happen anywhere at any time, then
we're in trouble," said Holland Central School District Superintendent
Akron Central School District Superintendent Robin Zymroz says "Where I
would like for additional law enforcement to take place in the cities, I
don't want it to be at the expense of school safety and security."
The students respect the troopers and appreciate their presence. "So
you wouldn't feel as safe if the police weren't here. It's reassuring. You
kind of intimidate people to.. Kind of behave better in school."
That better behavior is reflective in the numbers. "Our discipline rate
in the high school has actually dropped 53 percent since the SRO program
began," said Garry Stone, Superintendent of the Holland Central School
"It has been a terrific presentation of respect for law enforcement
personnel," said Roger Klatt, Superintendent of Barker Central School
Trooper Pyc said, "That's one of the things a School Resource Officer
does is provide a positive role model and I like to think I do that."
Grand Island High School Principal Sandy Anzalone worked at two districts
without SRO's. She's amazed not only with Pyc's rapport with students, but
the parents comfort level as well. "Parents who call on a legal
question about MySpace, perhaps, or about drugs," said Anzalone.
These educators hope the Governor understands the importance of the SRO's
and change his mind. "Without having our students feel safe it will
have an impact on learning," said Christmann.
The Governor has the authority to redeploy the troopers without the state
legislature's okay. School officials still hope members of the senate and
assembly can convince Spitzer it's a bad idea. They're also asking the
public to make calls and write letters to the Governor and their legislators
in support of the trooper program.