ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Tuesday evening, the Rochester City School District Board of Education approved a motion to place police officers outside five buildings, for arrival and dismissal times only.
This comes after reports and security footage showing three students running to escape gunfire, outside Franklin High School on Thursday, Jan. 5. The suspect can be seen aiming the gun and firing, only a few feet from students in the doorway.
The incident has sparked conversation among community members and board members, about bringing School Resource Officers back inside buildings, like they used to be, before the district cut the program in 2020.
Board President Cynthia Elliott is not in support of revisiting armed school resource officers inside buildings, but other members like James Patterson are.
It’s become a pretty decent topic of conversation lately, so News 8 decided to get the perspective of a former SRO ourselves.
Adam Wagner remembers his first day on the job, in 2017. He was nervous, but remembers kids being excited to see him.
“One student I ended up developing a relationship over the time, he was punched in the face by another student unprovoked, the kid just came up and punched him,” said Wagner. “Long story short, we built a relationship over the next couple years of school, I even invited to take him to church and pick him up once in a while.”
District officials say they’re not revisiting an SRO program. But Wagner says last week’s scare is something he doesn’t want to see again.
While he’s glad the district is taking action for arrival and dismissal at five buildings, he worries about the time in between that.
“What happens when we’re not there?” he said. “What’s the police response going to be, we’re so busy as it is out there, it’s hard to be ready to get up there quickly versus when we’re on school grounds.”
Board president Elliott said she’s seen students use SRO’s as counselors, instead of turning to preventative resources. She also said she’s seen a physical altercation between an officer and female student.
To that, Wagner says he wants to rebuild trust — if it’s been lost over time.
“I know we do shop with a cop, read-alongs once a year. Those are good, but I don’t think there’s enough of that being done, we definitely need to take other avenues as well,” said Wagner. “But I just think, us being in their daily lives Monday through Friday, for nine months out of the year is a great start.”
Wagner said the SRO program was started in the 90s. One incident sparking that, was a 12-year-old fatally stabbed outside a school.
That was Stephanie Givens, outside of Jefferson Middle School in 1995. Wagner says last week’s incident certainly brings back memories of that.
News 8 also reached out to other board members on Wednesday for comment on SRO conversation, but only heard back from Patterson, who would support SRO’s, and Elliott, who said “no comment.”
A full outline of the police presence for arrival and dismissal is linked here. The board voted to approve it Tuesday evening.