Letter to the Editor - Response to Board Meeting on 11/30/22, Need for SRO

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of The North Salem Post management or staff.

Why is it assumed that the students will be afraid to have a police officer in the building? Are they afraid of Officer Sean Armstrong? If anything they should feel safer. Are they afraid of firemen? My question is: what are these kids being told at home by their parents or being taught in school by the teachers that makes them so terrified of police once they get to high school?

I know this was not always the case. In elementary school when Mrs. Riener was principal, the students, at least my kids, were happy. In fact, at that time there wasn’t any need for an assistant principal and the school was run smoothly.

In response to people at the meeting who voiced their opinions, stating “By the time that the event is happening, it’s almost too late,” Gary Dearborn. “The investment and effort should be spent on heading it off beforehand.” This quote is naive yet true, but only in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Christina Horzepa-Dearborn urged Board members to “consider a comprehensive threat assessment system that will supplement or maybe even invalidate the need for an SRO.” Regrettably, the reality is that a comprehensive threat system would only be applicable to in-house threats and fails to acknowledge external threats, which we know are responsible for about half of the school shootings according to the US Accountability Office Research for Schools. These schools are prime targets; isolated, yet close to 684.

A student, daughter of board member Brandy Keenan, Eowyn Keenan, claims that “Throwing together a panicked paycheck for an SRO will not calm the nerves of students like me,” Keenan went on. “The answer to the problem is not more guns, more muscle, more cameras, more figures that personify this fear”(North Salem Post 12/6/22). I find this statement odd. Why are these students living in fear of the police? In today’s age police in schools are needed. Find the money!

Why can’t we afford an SRO? Why is the district in so much debt? Aren’t the children worth protecting? Can’t Erik Stark, Head of Business Administration for North Salem, who is responsible for Accounting, Payroll, Purchasing, Auditing, Budgeting, Debt Service, Child Nutrition, and Insurance/Risk Management, balance the books and stick to a budget that won’t put students in harm’s way?

I’ve worked at schools in the Bronx for several years. We had cops at every entrance and exit. They became part of the school community, many had good relationships and positive interactions with the students. There was no fear.

It is no wonder that North Salem CSD is in such a dark place and needs so much mental health assistance. What message is being conveyed to these students? This is a prime example of why teachers should not post inflammatory articles and rhetoric on their Facebook accounts. Students are very impressionable and easily manipulated.

Does anyone really think we have happier kids today?

Patricia Hughes, Taxpayer

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