GREENPORT—Some new faces have been added to the School Resource Deputy Program at Columbia County schools. Currently there are seven deputies working at schools around the county.
The program was initiated in 2014 during Sheriff David P. Bartlett’s first year in office. He was determined to bring this concept to fruition and worked with the Columbia County Board of Supervisors for assistance and cooperation, according to a press release from the sheriff.
Full-time school resource deputies were assigned to Ichabod Crane and Taconic Hills during the first year.
In addition to receiving support from the Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Office worked closely with school officials with the common goal of having a full-time deputy in their schools.
Three more school districts—Chatham, Germantown and New Lebanon—now have a full-time school resource deputy.
Deputies assigned to the program receive extensive specialized training for working in a school environment. The program is designed to promote school safety, address problems as they relate to students, and increase awareness of crime prevention, conflict and safety. This program also allows area school children and staff to see deputies as normal people, making the deputies more approachable to allow the deputy to be a resource not only to the students but also the staff, the release said.
The following resource deputies are assigned full-time to local schools:
*Deputy Kelly Briscoe is returning to the Chatham School District where she took over for Chatham’s initial resource deputy, Ian Boehme, who was promoted. Deputy Briscoe has been doing patrol work for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office since 2012 and also serves on the Columbia-Greene Shared Services Response Team. She is specially trained as a school resource deputy and a SWAT operator. She graduated from Ichabod Crane High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in both criminal justice and health science from the College at Brockport where she played softball for the Golden Eagles. “I’m here not only to keep our children, staff and visitors safe, but also to connect with the students in a meaningful way. The reason I always wanted to become a police officer was to be able to help the community and I believe that building positive relationships with the children of our community goes a long way in doing that,” Deputy Briscoe said in the release.
*Deputy Michael Meier has been assigned to the Germantown School District and will serve as this district’s first full-time school resource deputy. Deputy Meier was raised in East Chatham and has two younger brothers. He is a graduate of the Chatham Central School District class of 2005 and currently resides in the Village of Chatham. He is also a graduate of the 2008-09 Zone 14 Law Enforcement Academy and has previously worked for police departments in the villages of Millerton and Chatham. He has received specialized training as a school resource deputy. He was hired part-time by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in 2011 and full-time in 2014 and is very excited to work and interact with the staff and students of the Germantown School District to make it as safe and secure as possible.
*Deputy Toby VanAlstyne has been working with Ichabod Crane since the inception of the program in 2014. Deputy VanAlstyne has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 11 years and has received specialized training as a school resource deputy. He’s been married for 14 years and has two sons. “I enjoy coaching and volunteering in the community. Working as a school resource deputy has provided the opportunity to bridge law enforcement with the education system. Working at Ichabod Crane School District has allowed me to gain the trust from students and staff that they can come to me with any type of issues. This also gives them a sense of safety and security throughout their day,” the deputy said in the release.
*Deputy Patrick McMahon was recently selected to work full-time with the New Lebanon Central School District. He has been a patrol deputy for the Sheriff’s Office for the past three years and has always aspired to become a school resource deputy. He is trained for that post and has attended Juvenile Officer School. Deputy McMahon is a member of the CCSO Drone Team, and holds a certification as an emergency medical technician-basic which he attained on his own while working full-time. He graduated from Chatham High School in 2001 and attended SUNY Albany where he earned a BA in American history. He currently resides in Ghent.
*Deputy Cindy Madison is assigned to the Taconic Hills Central School District for a second year. Deputy Madison has been with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy for 10 years and serves on the Dive Team, Accident Reconstruction Team, the Car Seat Safety Program and Project Lifesaver. She has attended specialized school resource deputy training. She grew up locally and after school went onto serve in the U.S. Armed Forces as a military police officer for 10 years. She was deployed to Iraq in 2006. She has two children and enjoys horseback riding, soccer, track and field and many other sports. “I hope to be a positive role model and mentor for the students and look forward to helping kids stay on the right track. I look forward to running programs and activities within the school to gain a more positive and meaningful relationship with the students,” she said in the press release.
*Deputy Wendy Guntert has been with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for the past 18 years. For the 2018-19 school year, she is tasked with teaching fifth and eighth grade Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), throughout the entire county. The eighth grade DARE lesson plan is a new program which the Sheriff’s Office is excited to deliver to area schools. Deputy Guntert will also assist as a school resource deputy in the Hudson City School District when her schedule permits. During her career, she has been assigned to road patrol, marine patrol and SWAT team and is currently a member of the Accident Investigation Team and Project Lifesaver. She was born and raised in Columbia County and left for four years during her service in the U.S. Air Force. She earned an associate’s degree from Columbia-Greene Community College in criminal justice. Deputy Guntert has been involved in the area schools in one form or another for most of her career, and is looking forward to another wonderful school year educating area youth, the release said.
*Deputy Patrick Mayo is returning to Columbia-Greene Community College for his second year as the community resource deputy. Deputy Mayo has been employed by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office since February 2013. Since then, he was assigned to the road patrol division. He previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years and is also a former C-GCC student. In September 2017, Deputy Mayo was assigned to work at the college as the community resource deputy. There, the deputy participates on the Behavior Consultation and Assessment Team (B-CAT), the Veterans’ Task Force, Graduation Committee and is also a mentor to selected students.