School resource deputies will meet public at fair

GREENPORT–Deputies from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office will patrol each of the county’s six public school districts during the school year that starts next month. This police-in-schools program began in the middle of the past school year, with two officers people serving several districts. Now the program will reach all of the county’s public school districts with double the number of deputies.

The deputies, originally called School Resource Officers, now go by the designation School Resource Deputies (SRDs).

Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett, interviewed by phone August 12, said the four SRDs were at that time finishing training and had received their assignments.

Below are the School Resource Deputy assignments for the 2014-15 School Year:

  • Taconic Hills, Deputy Ian Boehme, first year as SRD, 6 years as a police officer
  • Germantown, Hudson, Deputy Wendy Guntert, second year as SRD, 15 years as a police officer
  • Chatham, New Lebanon, Deputy Todd Hyson, second year as SRD, 11 years as a police officer
  • Ichabod Crane, Deputy Toby VanAlstyne, first year as SRD, 7 years as a police officer.

Taconic Hills and Ichabod Crane, the two districts that have full-time SRDs, are each paying half the salary of the deputy assigned to the district. The Sheriff’s Office contributes the other half of the salaries for those two deputies. The Sheriff’s office also pays the salaries of the other two SRDs, but both of those deputies split their time between two districts and the districts do not contribute to the deputies’ salaries.

Additional deputies are receiving training in order to serve as substitutes, should the need arise, Sheriff Bartlett said. And some deputies are getting certification to train SRDs.

To become an SRD, an officer must have spent several years as a police officer and deputy and must have completed special training.

The SRDs’ major activities include walking through and observing school buildings and grounds, handling some misbehavior situations that arise, giving presentations on safety and helping at special events. With more SRDs in the county than last year, they and the students will have the opportunity for more “face time,” with each other, said Deputy Guntert.

The Sheriff’s Office and some school administrators have spoken positively about the deputies’ presence in schools last year and are looking forward to their greater presence in the coming school year.

All four of the SRDs assigned to Columbia County schools, according to Sheriff Bartlett, have associate degrees.

The Berkshire Union Free School District, a special residential school in Canaan, does not have SRDs, according to spokesman Mike Mitchell.

The public will be able to meet SRDs at the Columbia County Fair, where Sheriff Bartlett plans for them to make appearances. The fair takes place in Chatham August 27-September 1.


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