School communities around Central New York have been reacting in various ways to the mass shooting in Florida, with parents demanding metal detectors, armed guards and better safety training.
While employing an officer to patrol the school halls is ideal, it isn’t an affordable option for many smaller sized districts.
In the Marcellus Central School District, there’s an officer in every building.
Sean Clere is one of them. Road patrol, the gang unit, drug unit, swat, active shooter training– you name it, he’s done it.
Now, he’s on the high school beat.
Clere, now retired from the Sheriff’s Office, is under contract with Marcellus Police working part-time, and saving taxpayers a bundle when compared to hiring a full time active-duty officer.
“Because they are retired and collecting a pension, so they are willing to accept less of a pay than a non-retired individual,” said Marcellus Chief of Police Robert Wicks. “We’re very selective and we pick them on their personality, their experience and their tactical ability.”
Tactical ability is key– the school resource officers are all experts in rapid response strategies.
When put to the test and compared to an average response time of four to seven minutes– the resource officers’ response time was 30 seconds.
“Our response time was 30 seconds when the first SRO arrived on the scene and within two minutes, three other officers were on the scene, and they didn’t know when it was going to occur,” said Chief Wicks.
A model Chief Wicks says can work in any district, with a cost estimated of $6 per student.
“It starts with making a priority whether you follow this model or another model, it’s making a priority in your budget to do that. Having the community have that as a priority obviously, the Marcellus community saw this as a priority years ago when it started and it has not come on the table with any thought of reducing or cutting the partnership works,” said Superintendent Michelle Brantner.
“It’s a great peace of mind to know that if we have any type of incident, there is someone here with an expertise that I don’t have. They have a skill set, I have a skill set, putting those two skill sets together is very powerful,” Brantner continued.
Wicks credits their SRO program for thwarting plans by two students four years ago, who they believed were serious in their threats to harm others at the middle school.