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Cattaraugus County Sheriff wants armed guards in schools

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

There is a call to hire armed security guards at ALL schools in the state.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Cattaraugus County Sheriff, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Giglio and the Randolph Central School District Schools Superintendent are calling for changes.

“How many more kids are we going to take out in body bags? I want my kid safe next week,” stated Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitecomb.

The sheriff telling WBFO news in wake of the Parkland, Florida school shootings, it’s time for the state to follow the same model used to enter court buildings, placing armed security guards and metal detectors at one entry point to a school building to protect children.

“This is an overnight fix. If we thought we were concerned enough about the courtroom employees, how are we not concerned enough for defenseless children who are in soft target schools and the school violence trend in the United States is not going away,” explained Sheriff Whitecomb.  “I can’t recall the last time a court employee in New York State was shot in a court. We were concerned enough about the courtroom employees. How are we not concerned enough about defense children who are in soft targets."

The sheriff, assembly member and superintendent are pledging to work to help identify funding streams in the state and lobby to have armed security. 

Randolph Schools Superintendent Kaine Kelly tells us the sheriff's idea seems to be the best short-term solution.

“But in the meantime anything we can do to protect our school while we are trying to find this long-term solution, that will also harden the targets so to speak – is welcomed,” remarked Kelly.  “Superintendents statewide have been advocating for years for resources that not only can help improve students mental health, but make our schools safer and we support any effort that will help us with that cause."

“Assemblyman, do you think this is something the governor would support and do you think you would going to get bi-partisan support?” asked Buckley to Giglio.

“Well that’s why we are taking it outside the gun debate Eileen. This is not about whether it is guns or mental health – this is about securing New York State’s schools and making sure our students, our staff, our teachers, our administrators and everyone else that’s in the schools are safe – that’s what we are talking about right now. The other debate – essentially in the state legislature, like ours and Congress – that’s probably where that belongs.  When Sheriff Whitecomb and I talked about it our immediate response to make sure our children our safe in New York State schools,” Gigilo responded. “We think that there are a few different lines of revenue – we think it should be a dedicated line of revenue that goes directly to education or whoever becomes the overseer of this project, that’s why we are calling for a temporary Commission of School Safety and Security, so I think we would have to increase capital money to account for reinforcing doors and having all those other things – at the doorway to make sure the security measures stay intact."

The Souther tier leaders tell us they do not believe arming teachers is the solution.

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