Thursday, Sept. 8 won’t just be the first day of school for students at Broadalbin-Perth Central School District. It will also be the first day of school for B-P’s first school resource officers (SROs): Nicole Buckley and Kyle Harris were formally introduced during a press conference held Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Broadalbin-Perth Jr./Sr. High School.
The addition of Buckley and Harris is the result of years of efforts by Broadalbin-Perth and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to develop an SRO program. Buckley and Harris are both part of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and are employed as sheriff’s deputies, but they are exclusively assigned to Broadalbin-Perth schools.
“Public safety is the number one thing government needs to address,” said Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino. “Parents need to feel their children are safe when they’re at school.”
Buckley and Harris are the first SROs to be employed through the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. They’re working at Broadalbin-Perth schools through an agreement made between the district, the sheriff’s office, and the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.
As sheriff’s deputies, Buckley and Harris have access to information about calls other members of the department respond to, and can use that information to provide immediate support to B-P students who may be affected. For example, if a student lost their home to a fire one night, the SROs would be prepared to support that student first thing the next school day.
“We’re not here to be part of the school-to-prison pipeline,” Harris said. “We’re not disciplinarians. We’re here for the safety of the students and staff, and our goal is to develop relationships and create connections.”
Harris said he and Buckley already have plans to give presentations in science and health classes, support driver’s education classes by holding mock traffic stops with student drivers, and offer informal opportunities, like “Cider with a Cop,” to develop relationships with students, staff, and families.
Buckley and Harris would also be the first to respond to any crisis or violent incident that might take place at a Broadalbin-Perth school. Giardino noted that an active shooter incident generally lasts just 8-10 minutes, and that’s about how long it would normally take for law enforcement to arrive at the scene. Having Buckley and Harris already in place at the schools eliminates that lag in response time, Giardino said.
“When they were interviewing for their positions, the first question I asked them was, ‘Are you willing to stand between a bad guy and our students and staff?’” said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson. “Neither of them even let me finish my question before they responded, ‘Absolutely, yes.’”
Both Buckley and Harris are experienced SROs with local ties: Buckley is a graduate of nearby Mayfield Central School District, while Harris graduated from Broadalbin-Perth. During his remarks, Harris reflected on his deep ties to the B-P community.
“I couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity,” he said. “I’m a B-P grad, my kids go here, and my mom went to Broadalbin. I’m home, and I’m so glad to be part of this community.”
Although Buckley will primarily be assigned to B-P Elementary School and Harris will primarily be assigned to B-P Jr./Sr. High School, they said they will both be present and develop relationships with students and staff in both school buildings. In their black uniforms, they will be easy to recognize in the hallways of the schools. They will also be easy to recognize in the specially marked B-P/Fulton County Sheriff’s Office vehicle the district is leasing for the SROs’ official use.
The total annual cost of Broadalbin-Perth’s school resource officer program is approximately $215,000, which includes salaries and benefits, as well as the lease of the SRO vehicle.
Also in attendance at the press conference were Fulton County Undersheriff Dan Izzo; New York State Trooper Matthew Bowers; Warren Greene, chair of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee; B-P Board of Education President Ed Szumowski; and Wayne Bell, Broadalbin-Perth’s school safety coordinator.
Members of the Broadalbin-Perth community will have the opportunity to meet Buckley and Harris and learn more about efforts the district is taking to enhance school safety and security during a community forum scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26 in the Margaret Robin Blowers Auditorium at B-P Jr./Sr. High School.