Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools supports an ANY OF THE ABOVE approach to school safety when it comes to meeting the expert recommendations of one armed security person per school. The range of options in this survey were used to understand exactly what each candidate would support from the standpoint of armed security guards. Each option has its positive and negative aspects. For example, adding an SRO to every elementary school would be extremely costly, but comes with the positive impact that the SRO's would be overseen by the police department. In comparison allowing the retired police officers to carry on campus would cost the district nothing but the issue is that the retired police officers aren't under the supervision of the police department, rather they operate under the school umbrella, as they did for 30 years prior.
2020 School Safety Candidate Survey
In October, 2018, the Saratoga Springs Board of Education voted 5-4 to disarm the active and retired police officers working security at the district’s 8 schools, a practice which took place for more than 30 years.
Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools was created to organize parents throughout the school district in an attempt to overturn the school board’s decision.
Over the past 18 months there have been many new developments surrounding the school safety issue and the need for armed security that are important to understand. These developments include new expert recommendations and guidance from both the Federal government and the State of New York.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission Report was published on January 2, 2019.
The commission was put into place by Governor Rick Scott of Florida following the 2018 mass shooting of 17 students/faculty and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.
The goal of the commission was to detail the systemic failures that lead to the shooting at MSD and to make recommendations to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
The report’s findings include the following:
“One SRO per campus is inadequate to a timely and effective response to an active assailant situation.”·
“There shall be a minimum of at least one law enforcement officer on every middle and high school campus and a minimum of one law enforcement officer or guardian on every elementary school campus. Each allocation of law enforcement officer/guardians must be staffed sufficiently to provide for an immediate backup and an appropriate and timely response consistent with the circumstances of an emergency situation.”
The Department of Homeland Security
On February 10, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security launched a Federal School Safety Clearing House designed to provide school officials with a one-stop shop for school safety best practices. The recommendations provided at schoolsafety.gov include guidance for school safety personnel.
“Law enforcement, school resource officers (SRO), or security personnel can be invaluable resources to the team because of their specialized knowledge in recognizing building security concerns and mitigating violent situations.”
New York State Legislature
S101A, a bill to limit education institutions ability to authorize the possession of a weapon on school grounds was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 31, 2019.
The purpose of the bill was to expressly delegate school resource officers, law enforcement officers, and security guards as the only persons legally allowed to carry a firearm on school grounds.
To obtain a security guard license from the state of NY an individual must meet specialized criteria including:
Section 89-G of Article 7A requires all persons engaged in security guard activities be registered with the New York Department of State (DOS), and complete all training (unless exempt) at schools approved by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
The law provides exemptions for active (off-duty) and retired police officers related to training requirements mandated by the state of NY.
“The Security Guard Act exempts active police officers from the definition of a security guard. This means active police officers accepting secondary employment are not required to register or complete training. However, if you are an active police officer, anticipating retirement, and still wish to obtain a Security Guard Registration, you must provide proof of original police officer training and a letter of good standing from the agency that employs you, along with the original Security Guard Application and finger print receipt.”
Retired Police Officers:
“In order to be exempt from the training, you must provide DOS with a letter from your department (signed by your department) indicating your retirement date.
In addition, if you are required by your security guard employer to carry a firearm, or are authorized to have access to a firearm, you must provide proof to DOS and your employer of having completed a Basic Course for Police Officers (or an equivalent course), that included initial firearms training, within one year prior to employment as an armed security guard.
If your initial firearms training occurred more than a year before employment as an armed security guard, you must complete an 8 Hour Annual Firearms Course for Security Guards and report that training to DOS and your employer.
If it has been more than 10 years since you retired as a police officer, you are additionally required to complete the 8 Hour Annual In-Service Training Course for Security Guards every year thereafter.”
Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools is requesting that the Saratoga Springs Board of Education provide the recommended number of armed security guards per school campus in accordance with NYS Law.
Presently, the Saratoga Springs School District has 8 school campuses and employs 2 full-time School Resources Officers, deployed to the High School & Middle School.
In addition, the district employs 17 grounds monitors of which 3 are active duty police officers and 13 are retired police officers.
Neither the present nor former police officers are permitted to carry a firearm on school grounds in the Saratoga Springs School District.
1) Do you support the expert recommendations of at least one-armed security person per school campus?
2) Do you support increasing the number of School Resource Officers to meet the national recommendations?
3) Do you support allowing active (off-duty) police officers to carry a firearm on school campus while working in a security capacity?
4) Do you support allowing retired police officers to carry a firearm on school campus while working in a security capacity so long as they obtain a security guard license from NYS?