New Castle News

Closer Look

July 3, 2013

New Wilmington considers school police officer

NEW CASTLE — New Wilmington Borough is considering providing a police officer to work in the Wilmington schools.

The school district employs private security officers to patrol the schools. But Police Chief Carmen Piccirillo said the district would like to employ a member of the New Wilmington Police Department to work as a full-time school resource officer while classes are in session.

On Monday, council authorized Piccirillo to explore the possibility and set up informational meetings with school officials and representatives of districts that have such officers.

“This is where our future is going,” councilwoman Susan Ligo said. “We may not like it but in a few years we may not have a choice.”

Piccirillo said the Wilmington school board recently approved funding for a resource officer at 75 to 80 percent if the borough is willing to enter a contract and pay the remainder. He said there is no way everything could be in place by the start of the 2013-14 school year but said late fall or winter would be possible.

He said several things would have to be examined, including adjustments to the police labor contract to take into account different length of a school work day from regular officer shifts and deciding what the resource officer would do during the summer.

Piccirillo said he believes the resource officer could save the borough overtime by filling in during other officers’ summer vacations. He said he also would like an escape clause in the contract should the arrangement not work out.

“I have my own vision of what the position should be and shouldn’t be.”

He would like to see a resource officer who, in addition to providing security, would revive the DARE program against drugs, gangs and violence, and also provide education on driver, bike, stranger, Internet and other types of safety.

The officer also would have to establish a strong rapport with students and earn their trust. Several weeks of safety education and DARE training would be necessary for the candidate, he said.

Federal money is becoming available for such positions, Piccirillo noted, which might become mandatory because of lawmaker trends in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre which killed 20 students and six teachers in December.

Elsewhere in Lawrence County, the New Castle school district has a resource officer, Union has just hired one and the others have varying security arrangements.


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