Legislator Testa, Colleagues Approve County Police School Resource Officers

Lakeland gets two elementary school officers in addition to the one in Panas HS.
Hendrick Hudson High School gets one SRO, the first for the district.

IMG_1643The Westchester County Department of Public Safety will be providing a total of four police officers to serve as School Resource Officers (SRO) in the Lakeland and Hendrick Hudson School Districts. The positions were created through an amendment to an existing intermunicipal agreement (IMA) which adds three new SRO’s where the existing IMA previously provided one SRO at Walter Panas High School. The newly created SRO positions were approved at the Board of Legislators meeting on September 17, 2018 by a unanimous 16-0 vote.

The new SRO positions were created at the request of the Lakeland and Hendrick Hudson School District Superintendents and supported by County Legislator John Testa. One of the new SRO’s will be assigned to the Hendrick Hudson School District at their High School. The other two additional SRO’s will be assigned to the Lakeland School District at the Van Cortlandtville Elementary School and the Lincoln Titus Elementary School. The new SRO’s will begin immediately with the two new elementary school positions continuing through the last day of school in 2021. The IMA for the Hendrick Hudson SRO runs through the last day of school in 2023.

IMG_1638The SRO’s are critical positions in our schools that provide community policing benefits for children and law enforcement. Establishing familiarity and trust with law enforcement at an early age is especially important for kids who are at risk. SRO activities include deescalating potentially violent situations in an emergency, preventing and investigating criminal activities, preventing juvenile delinquency, working with educators and administrators on programs to prevent drug abuse and most importantly to serve as a role model and source of positive input and mentoring to our youth.

The four SRO positions will be fully funded by the school districts through annual payments by the school district to the county. When school is not in session, the SRO staff will be assigned to patrolling Westchester County’s vast parks system during the busy summer season.

Following the vote, Legislator Testa who is a retired teacher from the Peekskill school district said, “I am grateful to my colleagues for joining me in support of this intermunicipal agreement. We have no more valuable asset in our communities than our children and it is imperative that we provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment in which they can pursue academics as well as the important social and civic responsibilities that they will use for the rest of their lives. We have seen the tremendous benefits that having School Resource Officers as a daily presence in Walter Panas High School and I know that our younger kids will benefit from those relationships as well.”

* All schools receiving these SRO personnel are located within the Town of Cortlandt, which does not have its own police force and is patrolled by the Westchester County Police.
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About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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