City says it is not standing in way of School Resource Officer

For parents, school and city officials, there is no question there should be a school resource officer at Dunkirk City Schools. The only question is funding the position.

At the recent Common Council meeting, First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. said there is a misconception that the city is standing in the way of there being an SRO at the school.

“I went to the board of education’s meeting on Thursday and they talked about an SRO position and afterward some of the parents and teachers who were there seemed to think it is something that the council or the mayor was stopping. I just wanted to get it out on the record that the SRO position has not come before this council yet, so we’re not holding up anything. I think it would be a smart thing for the school district to do it, but I also realize that’s a school board issue, not a city council issue,” he said.

Williams said he also heard at the school board meeting that Superintendent Dr. James Tracy had been in direct communication with the Police Benevolent Association union president, not the mayor or city attorney, for negotiations.

Mayor Willie Rosas said he was in contact with Dr. Tracy.

“I’ve already spoken with the superintendent and advised him if he’d like to have further discussion on this issue, I would be the person he would need to contact. In no way did I delegate that duty to have the city represented by our front-line staff, regardless of their position with the union and I would never do that,” he said.

However, he did express a willingness to continue to work with the school district and also the PBA to see that there is an SRO at the school.

“I believe that the school needs an SRO. I was a certified school resource officer … and I can tell you that it’s a position needed in our school district, but ultimately the responsibility for payment of that position lies with the school district. So these are some of the things I would like to sit down and discuss with the superintendent to see how we can help facilitate this position. If the PBA wants to be involved, I have no problem with that, in fact, if the PBA wants to forego some of the benefits that we are contractually obligated to pay that makes that position at a higher rate, then I would definitely take them up on it. We have to have some discussion on that. I think the PBA being at the table is a good thing and I welcome the opportunity to sit down with the superintendent,” Rosas said.

Williams reaffirmed that he would also like to see and SRO in place.

“I’ve made my feelings about the need of an SRO and the city’s cooperation with the school district known to the mayor. In the past, the school district has covered the cost of the police officer assigned to the schools as SRO. I believe that the district and the city should not play the nickel and dime game when it comes to the safety of our city’s youth. School should be a safe place for all students and a SRO at Dunkirk schools is long overdue,” he added after the meeting.