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VILLAGE POLICE OFFICERS TO HAVE PRESENCE

Franklinville Central School District officials signed a contract Tuesday night that funds a part-time school resource officer from the Franklinville Police Department.

In August, the district's law enforcement presence will further expand with the addition of an in-house probation officer three days a week.

School resource officers may have the use of a school district car occasionally, and both officers will work out of offices provided and outfitted by the school district.

Superintendent Terence M. Dolan explained that the program is designed in part to protect the students, while the new probation presence could result in more interventions instead of discipline to encourage kids to stay in school.

The district's former officer, a Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputy, ended a four-year contract in June that was paid for mostly by a federal COPS grant and, in the final five months, by the school district.

For 28 hours a week during the 40 weeks beginning Sept. 1, the district has agreed to pay the village $11.50 an hour in wages and $1.66 an hour in benefits for the resource officer. The officer is likely to be one of two patrolmen now working for the village Police Department, with the school district reserving final approval for hiring and training.

Both of the patrolmen have already received specialized training for the job, said Chief Tony Wolfer, who attended the session with Mayor Judy L. Harrington.

Dolan said while on school duty the officer will be supervised by him and the building principal and should not perform any routine police work. He described the program as an opportunity for officers to observe children in the school environment and to establish positive relationships with them. The officer will also be expected to spend some off-duty time on the school grounds during games and other activities, he added.

"I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this. I thought the village missed out four or five years ago when the first SRO came into the school," Wolfer told School Board members.

He said he will be available to fill in for the officers as needed during the year.

Ray Green of the Cattaraugus County Probation Department told the board members that county legislators are expected to file legislation today for contracts with school districts and that officers will begin work Aug. 1. He noted several other districts will be involved in the program, including Pioneer Central, Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central and Olean.

"We're here to try to help these students, not punish them," Green said, adding that the officers will not wear uniforms or carry weapons according to district policy.

He named LuAnn Wickham as the officer to be assigned to the school, where she has served students in the past. She will spend seven hours a day, three days a week, working with children receiving the department's services. She may drug- and alcohol-test students on site and will make home visits if students are absent and try to get them back in school, he said.

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