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Strengthening Security at Eastchester’s Schools

[This story is included in the 2023-2024 School Budget Newsletter]

The day after a recent school shooting in Nashville, TN, Eastchester parents may have been heartened to see Eastchester Police Department officers greeting children as they made their way into district buildings.

That could become a routine sight if voters approve the Eastchester School District’s proposed 2023-2024 budget, which calls for hiring School Resource Officers for all three elementary schools. The district currently employs two SROs, one stationed permanently at the Eastchester High/Middle School campus, and another who rotates among the district’s three elementary schools.

At a joint meeting between the School and Town Boards on March 28, Eastchester Police Chief Sgt. Joe Rodriguez acknowledged that school security is a top concern among community parents and that expanding the use of SROs in the district should help give them some peace of mind. 

“The tragedy in Nashville highlights the need to hopefully put an officer in every school,” said Sgt. Rodriguez. “We’re hoping that the presence of the officers in the building is a deterrent, and if the deterrent is not enough, they will be there to mitigate any threat.”

The additional officers would be made possible, in part, by a partnership with the Town of Eastchester, which has agreed to cover the cost of one of the SROs. School Board Trustee Laurie Giacobbe said the ongoing partnership between the schools and the town should strengthen security district-wide.

“Safety has been a top concern for us, both as parents and as board members,” said Giacobbe. “Our continued partnership with the community and the town is proof that everyone is working together to make our schools safer for our students, our faculty and our staff.”

And although providing security may be the most visible function of SROs, EUFSD Security Coordinator John Kugler believes they also play a vital role within the district as youth outreach specialists.

“Aside from working closely with school administrators to provide a safe environment for students and staff, they assist administrators in developing emergency response plans and being part of threat assessment and incident response teams.” said Kugler. “They create a positive relationship with educators and students, and provide student referrals to youth agencies and programs.”