Put Cops at All Schools, Bedford's Superintendent Asks

Bedford Central Superintendent Jere Hochman calls on Bedford, Mount Kisco and Pound Ridge to provide full-time police protection.

The Bedford Central School District has formally asked for full-time police protection at each of its five elementary schools and the Fox Lane campus.

In a letter to the district’s communities—Bedford, Mount Kisco and Pound Ridge—School Superintendent Jere Hochman asked for either an all-day police officer and car or, if that’s not possible, an unarmed security supervisor. The increased security would remain in place through June while officials examine school safety in a new, post-Newtown light.

A lone gunman’s slaughter of 20 children—most of them first-graders, along with six educators—at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month provoked not only national outrage but also widespread worry whether any school can guarantee its students’ safety. On Tuesday, those fears and their emotional fallout—manifest in recent weeks at numerous area school board meetings—got a public airing at a Bedford town board meeting, hearing Hochman’s letter and the pleas of several parents.

Bedford officials, while sharing the parents’ safety concerns, called school security a district matter and questioned, in any case, the ultimate effectiveness of a single sentry standing classroom watch.

But Bedford Supervisor Lee V.A. Roberts said that meeting Hochman’s request would cost a “staggering amount” that was, in her view, “a district expense” anyway.

Bedford Police Chief William Hayes estimated the price tag at about $1 million a year to install police officers just in Bedford’s four public schools. Moreover, he noted, private schools within the Bedford CSD as well as the town’s other school district, Katonah-Lewisboro, could request similar protection, potentially raising the number under patrol to 29.

Hayes, who specialized in school-security issues as he rose in the ranks in the aftermath of Colorado’s 1999 Columbine tragedy, sees a police officer in the school as an expensive way to instill a perhaps-unwarranted sense of security. “Most school shootings,” he told the town board Tuesday, “are stopped by means other than law-enforcement intervention.” At Columbine, for example, 12 students died despite the presence of a full-time, armed school resource officer.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich acknowledged the letter and said that he talked with Hochman after getting it. He said that he did not have details on how the request would be funded, and declined to discuss specifics on a possible deployment, citing the fact that it is related to security.

Cindrich, who is a retired Mamaroneck town police lieutenant and worked on its school district's security, felt that the two schools in the village, Mount Kisco Elementary School and the Hillside program, are secure.

Pound Ridge Supervisor Gary Warshauer could not be reached for his reaction to Hochman’s request.

In addressing the town board, parents insisted that placing a police officer in front of a school has a deterrent effect. And perhaps as importantly, they added, the absence of an officer could invite some would-be gunman to target an unprotected schoolhouse here rather than confront a security presence elsewhere.

“I think the psychopaths who would do harm to our children are not unilaterally unintelligent,” said Jeff Szymanski, the father of a Bedford Village Elementary School student. “While they have their issues, they are very smart about the way they do this.” Since a terrorist will look to attack where he sees the greatest likelihood of success, he said, “your easiest target is one without protection. . . . The deterrent thing, I think, is really important.”

John Sauro of Pound Ridge, who is circulating a petition calling for police patrols, disputed the town’s lack of responsibility for providing school security, noting that police officers are on hand for large gatherings like parades and other celebrations and observances.

He reminded board members that “you have a police presence wherever there’s a large congregation of citizens. That is part of the town’s responsibility.” Accordingly, he said, “it’s the town’s responsibility to keep these [school] children safe, because they are not second-class citizens. They deserve the same exact protection that everyone in the town gets.”

Sauro also criticized what he called lax school security, saying it was “astonishing to me how I could walk in and out of these schools without being approached by anybody.”

Bedford Councilman Francis T. Corcoran agreed. “There are lots of other things they could do right this second [to beef up security],” he said. For all the talk of adopting stringent new security measures, including the addition of police officers, bulletproof glass and single points of entry, Corcoran said, fundamental precautions are going unheeded. He cited, for example, doors that are left unlocked and simple safety protocols that are not being followed. “We need to look harder, right now, at what we’re doing in the schools,” he said.

Hochman, in his letter, said his school safety committee is “looking at what can be done . . . inside schools, at school entrances, on the perimeter of the schools and on the campus.”

Whatever the committee concludes, anxious parents are waiting for assurances, the town hall meeting made clear. “I feel like our kids are sitting ducks,” Szymanski said.

Editor's note: We have changed the headline to indicate that a police presence is desired at—but not inside—district schools. With the exception of the district's School Resource Officer (a uniformed, armed police officer), additional officers are requested to patrol campus grounds.

mark January 25, 2013 at 09:00 PM
could the national guard be used for this purpose?
Joseph Zaino January 25, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I have no problem with the issue of trying to keep the mentally ill separated from guns. However, the issue of how to do it and how to implement it is not easily accomplished and is by no means immediate. Putting armed cops, guards, teachers, principals, etc has an IMMEDIATE effect. If you recall, after 9/11 the government created the Department of Homeland Security, passed the Patriot Act, and mobilized an effort to strike at the source of terrorism- GREAT!!- but also ARMED the pilots and provided for ARMED Air Marshalls right away! The issues are not mutually exclusive.
Michele January 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I'm in favor of having some type of security in schools. But let's get real -how do we pay for 1 officer in each school? Up school taxes even more?
Joe Malichio January 25, 2013 at 10:21 PM
The budget is $124 million dollars... it's there. Check out the salaries and benefits and all the personnel we the taxpayers employ --it's crazy. We can trim the budget and add security. Our school board and administration need to step up. Too many are on the payroll getting paid too much. It's not 'nice' to say that... but it's the truth. Let's look at the middle school: why does each house need a house director? Really necessary? The kids' education will suffer w/o them? Eliminate one... there's your security guard at that school. It's not hard to do this. School by school.
Theresa Flora January 25, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Ann: you've probably voted yes or haven't voted on school budgets. I must confess, I have voted no for the last 22 years since I got here. I think all but one budget passed in all that time. People have been feeding the beast, and for what? I've put three kids through BCSD and still have one in elementary school. I can give you a laundry list of waste and funds that could've been better spent over the past two decades. Lets protect our kids. It's money well spent, in my opinion.
Johnsauro January 26, 2013 at 10:23 PM
All public events like Fourth of July and parades etc. have a large concentration of people and requires a police presence. All public and Government buildings have police. Everyday the largest concentration of people are in the schools and they are the most vulnerable. Do our children not deserve the same protection? There is nothing wrong with police presence in the schools and experts agree that police are an important part of a comprehensive security plan. I'm sure those who disagree would change their opinion if there child's school were under attack. The world is a different place and we need to change with it in order to keep our children safe.
Tom Auchterlonie (Editor) January 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM
I have an updated story on this topic: http://patch.com/A-1zby
jan lane January 27, 2013 at 02:28 AM
in my opinion, and we all have one, but in the end , our kids safety is our first concern, it is a shame that we have come to this. It is a sign of the times. Arguing amongist ourselves is not the answer. we all want our kids safe. I have no answers, nor does anyone else, just opinions. please people , stop bickering and get it done. Police , no police, police area deterant, not a solution. there are no gurantees in life. we do our best for a common goal, keep our babies safe.
Ben January 27, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Two things are apparent. 1. The simple discussion of having a cop at the schools to better protect children has turned into a politcal discussion about the NRA, and gun control. While i simply want to better protect the children, people are using this to make political talking points. If you were ever capable of being ashamed, you should be! I could not care less about the NRA and welcome a gun control discussion - at another time. 2. BCSD and the town boards have officially put a price tag on our childrens safety. They can write a budget for so many 'debatable' costly projects, like solar panels, and gardening centers, and parent centers. They raise taxes and spend our money like Santa Claus. They can have layer upon layers of administrators at healthy salaries, and outrageous benefit packages. But, the minute you ask to find funds to better protect the children with a police officer at school, they become thrifty and 'tight' with the money. They spout off about mental health, and pass the buck, and will assess if forever -- A $75 million budget and they cannot find any funds. Of course not - you see, they may say safety is important when the press is listening, but not important enough to actually do something about it.
Ross Revira January 27, 2013 at 03:54 PM
There is not a reasonable person who does not want our children protected while attending school. The question should be will a single police officer or armed security guard in each building protect the students or just be another "feel good" exercise? Just because Superintendent Jere Hochman asked for an armed presence does not make it right. What credentials does the Superintendent have to make such a request regarding security Could he just be reacting to Newtown to placate parents who are understandably worried? Let a professional team of security experts evaluate the weaknesses of the district ,write a report and let all the residents of the district decide. The saftey of our school children should not be made in haste or panic.
tvita January 27, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Our superentendet is responsible for keep our kids safe and all personel, We are among the very few that have not done something already to increase security proceedures in our disctrict. Why hire a team of professional security experts and waste more of our taxpayers money instead of putting it to use. Its a no brainer that an armed security is a deter and the first level of protection from a waco trying to get into our schools. then there is the other level of security within the schools. All residents are not parents of school children and dont give a dam and are worried about there taxes increasing. I am sure there will be a survey that will go out. why waste time, time could mean the lives of our children or the lives of teachers who have children and familys of there own.
Tom Kennedy January 28, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Even though I am from Bedford and my daughter is only 6 months, I am glad these discussions are being had now and hopefully it will be long before my daughter goes to school before armed guards will be there. Any deterents we can bring to the schools within reasons should be done. A busser and bullet proof glass as a start at least, but an armed guard is the real answer in my opinion.
Ross Revira January 28, 2013 at 10:17 PM
The Superintendent is an expert in education. Would you hire the Police Chief to implement a new curriculum? A knee jerk reaction does nothing to enhance the security of the students. Being that all property owners will pay for any additional security they should have a say in what is spent. That is called democracy. By the way Columbine had an armed security officer on campus.
tvita January 28, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Well Ross, maybe if there wasnt an armed officer at Columbine more than just the 13 would have died. Im all for increased property or school tax for the security of my children. At least I know the money is well spent. We are not the only district seeking armed guards, its happening all over the country. already about 1/3 of schools already have armed guards. They didnt jump to a knee jerk reaction. The acted on the behalf of safty for our children.
Ben January 28, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Wrong again Ross. Stop spouting the CNBC talking points. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Gardner, was the community resource officer at Columbine High School. The first shots fired from Klebold and Harris (the bad guys) were at 11:19. Ten persons had already been shot by 11:23, when Deputy Gardner arrives on scene. At 11:24 he engages (that means shooting at) Eric Harris. Harris shoots 10 rounds (bullets) at the school officer. Harris then returns inside the school to continue killing. At 11:26 - 2 deputies, Staborsky and Smoker, from 'off site' arrive on the scene and begin assisting injured students in the grass. Harris is leaning out of a broken window when the cops arrive, ready to shoot them. Gardner, 'the school cop' is able to warn Smoker who then protects himslf and too engages Harris. So, two good things happened here. the 'school cop' which you suggest is no help, kept Harris busy for at least a minute - at 70+ rounds a minute for semi-automatic weapons, he surely SAVED LIVES. He also, likely, saved one or both deputies lives. At 11:35, the last victim is shot. The killers wander around, shooting and blowing things up as the Police organize and move in. At 12:08 both gunman kill themselves. The cop on site helped save many lives, if you think otherwise your are missing something - maybe in a school so large, they should actually have two police officers. Sorry for all the facts - but i thought they may be relevant.
tvita January 28, 2013 at 11:59 PM
There you go, Great Ben the detailed information that everyone even our Superintentent should know. This is clearly the evidence that supports an armed guard is crutial in saving lives. Thanks for that.
Joe Malichio January 29, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Ross, most of the security guard advocates on here are fiscal hawks. I think the school budget is $20 million too high. This is the ONE line item in the budget that should be increased. You should have a say as a taxpayer... I agree. Now, tell me what is more important than the safety of our kids. Please send a letter to the airline industry and U.S. government to tell them how they overreacted to 9-11 by increased screening at the airports. I fly all the time... and don't whine about taking my shoes off or throwing my bag through the x-ray machine.
Ross Revira January 29, 2013 at 12:41 PM
What is it with guns, it brings out hysteria on both sides of the equation. The way many bloggers talk the closest they ever got to a gun was in a video game. Ben I did not know an opinion could be right or wrong ? I never sugested a SRO was no help that was your take. If your time line at Columbine is correct 10 people are already shot by the time the SRO engages the shooters (that wouild be the bad guys)..
tvita January 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM
The Hysteria is about 20 innocent 6 yr olds that died at the hands of a wacko with a gun. 6 adults who had families and children of there own doing a job in a elemtary school, 2 injured trying to protect the children. We want to protect our children FROM THIS HAPPENING AGAIN!
Ben January 29, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Guns are not bringing out the hysteria. Dead children in schools are. I know enough about guns to know that if someone has one, and is mowing down teachers, or kids, it is better to have one to fight back, than not. The time line comes directly from the Jefferson County police report. Yes, 10 people were shot within the 4 first minutes. Unfortunately, and we likely agree on this, we can never stop every bad thing from happening. But a cop slows this down, or stops it. And, if we have police at airports, or banks, and at parades, why would you not have one at a school where hundreds of kids are huddled, unprotected for 6-8 hours? I am not suggesting arming every teacher, or having a wild west scenario. But in the case of an elementary school, where kids do not even know enough to run or hide, or remember day it is, what do you propose? Just have a trusted local PO at the school, full time. And, yes i suppose an opinion cannot be right or wrong, but you tossed the Columbine reference in there as if it proves a cop does not help in a crisis, where his presence certainly did. Put all the facts out there, and let people decide. Signed - 'still concerned'
Ross Revira January 29, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Just proved my point!
tvita January 29, 2013 at 11:04 PM
You proved nothing but your Nieve Carlos! or your not to concerened about the safty of your Middle Schooler. You should be, that school is the lest safest in our district.
Ross Revira January 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Change the channel TV . Maybe you have not learned you don't always get your way even if you have a tantrum.
tvita January 30, 2013 at 01:50 PM
your an idiot!!! Maybe you should start watching TV if you even have one. Mayberry was in the 1950's ITS 2013 TIMES HAVE CHANGED, and dont forget children learn from example. and Im not having this imature debate with you anylonger. THIS IS ABOUT SAFTY, AT LEAST I CARE!!!
Ben January 30, 2013 at 01:53 PM
what does turn the channel TV mean? i am not following you here. A few closing comments, as this conversation is tired. - do not be so generous with the word 'expert' when describing the superintendent - have you seen the school rankings? - nobody is having a tantrum - Be assured, we will get our way - and we at PRES already have For the sake of the children across the rest of the district, i hope the other schools follow suit.
Ross Revira January 30, 2013 at 02:30 PM
You keep proving my point!
tvita January 30, 2013 at 09:26 PM
really and you proved mine, who's having the tantrum now.
tvita January 30, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Ross keep going on every single towns patch and voice your opinion. You clearly have nothing better to do than to bash people and what they feel deeply about. Its disgusting. I can read you very clearly.
Ross Revira January 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM
tvita 8:50 am on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 your an idiot!!! Maybe you should start watching TV if you even have one. Mayberry was in the 1950's ITS 2013 TIMES HAVE CHANGED, and dont forget children learn from example. Who's doing the bashing? Remember children learn by example.
Joe Malichio January 30, 2013 at 10:22 PM
I was just thinking about how cool the name 'Ross' is...


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