Schenectady High School brings in two community engagement officers

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Recently, the Schenectady High School has been facing some violent incidents. The district is now implementing new safety protocols. The school district is partnering with the Schenectady Police Department to create the SRO 2.0 Pilot Program.

Since Wednesday, the Schenectady City School District launched a new pilot program. High schoolers will now see two community engagement officers patrolling the hallways. Schenectady Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. says these officers are here to deter the violence. “They are not here to enforce the code of conduct…we have different thresholds of intervention where they come in if somebody brings a weapon, there’s a threat of a weapon, someone says they’re going to shoot at the school, they can investigate — those are the things we want to look at,” said Schenectady Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.

“I think the reality is, if we do this well, there should be a presence. We’re just piloting this right now as a partnership where piloting is at no cost right now. Currently, we know that at some point if we expand this, there will have to be a financial commitment from us as well to support this,” said Soler Jr.

“We are there to provide public-safety, that’s first and foremost,” said Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford. Chief Clifford says these officers can paint a different narrative of policing. The police department has been involved in all sorts of school activities, but the district hasn’t had school resource officers in over a decade. “And that was really based on the prior superintendent’s vision of really wanting to have that separation, but we did allow us to go in and do different programming which we did,” said Chief Clifford.

These two officers will not be in traditional uniform, they’re dressed down in khakis and a polo shirt, and they will be armed. “They do have their firearm, it’s a different type of firearm, it’s more concealed so it’s not as prominent out there but they are still police and again, if something happens, we don’t want them to not have availability to their firearm. I think the biggest thing for us is that they’re not going to look like a regular real patrol cop you would normally see,” said Soler Jr.

The purpose is to create a better relationship between police officers and the rest of the community. “The kids that are in school that are meeting these police officers may have a different impression years from now if they have to call the police, they know they could be trusted,” said Chief Clifford.

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