The Town of Clarence has never had its own police department, until now.
On Wednesday the Town Board voted to create a part-time patrol officer position to work with the Clarence School District as a school resource officer. The $25,000 salary will be paid for by the school district and the town will provide a vehicle and uniform.
Clarence School Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks said the Board of Education will vote on the inter-municipal agreement at its board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the Clarence High School lecture hall. Hicks said he hopes to fill the job by mid-October and is considering hiring a state trooper who has been working with the district and is planning to retire.
"We have been talking about this for a number of years (in joint town/school board meetings,) but the financing was difficult," said Hicks. "But the fact that the Town of Clarence worked with us and hired the officer - (the town) will become a contract service provider for the school district and we are able to keep it at the $25,000 level."
In April there was a report of teen violence in Clarence, and three 17-year-olds were charged with assault with a weapon and attempted armed robbery. Hicks said "anytime there is violence involving a Clarence student it is something we are concerned about and want to have a plan for."
But he said one incident is not the impetus for a school resource officer. He said there have been instances that the district has had to contact state police, but the job of the school resource officer goes beyond that.
"We feel a school resource officer can help in multiple ways - as an educator visiting classrooms or helping us with anything police related," said Hicks. "It's not our vision to only have the school resource officer at the high school. We would make him available to other buildings for educational purposes or if he is needed for police matters at another building."
Hicks said they are no metal detectors in the Clarence schools, but officials do lock down the high school and middle school for random drug dog searches, bringing in dogs from different agencies. He said a school resource officer would coordinate with the agencies that come into the schools.