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Following more than an hour and a half of debate and the passage of two amendments, the Chautauqua County Legislature on Wednesday approved using $1 million in federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant funds for school resource officers in eight districts.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace, who made the official program presentation to lawmakers, said six districts -- Southwestern, Falconer, Brocton, Chautauqua Lake, Bemus Point and Clymer -- and the county's two Board of Cooperative Educational Services centers will be staffed with one officer each over the next three years.

Minority Leader James Caflisch, R-Clymer, opposed both amendments and the resolution, saying the county would end up footing part of the expenses.

Gerace said he is uncertain how much the local share of the bill would be until the program is in place.

The first amendment stated that the participating school districts would have to pick up the local share of the costs. However the second amendment would allow the use of sheriff's department grants and money from drug seizures.

Legislator Joseph Trusso, D-Jamestown, emphasized the importance of the program, saying both public and school safety shouldn't be trivialized.

Legislator J. Norman Herby, R-Jamestown, also said he was concerned that too much language in the measure would impede the program.

The final vote was 21-1, with Caflisch the lone dissenter. There also was one abstention.

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