Pound Ridge Mulls Request For Armed Officers At School

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Bedford School Superintendent Jere Hochman addressing the Pound Ridge Town Board on the issue of school safety and security. Photo Credit: Bob Dumas

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The Town Board is considering a request for armed police officers at Pound Ridge Elementary School. However, it's not likely to make a decision until a security audit of district buildings is completed.

School Superintendent Jere Hochman made the request last week in a letter to the board.

The town has agreed to provide regular police patrols outside the school on a temporary basis, and has met with parents to discuss school security.

“I’ve had multiple conversations with parents and I would like to have a special meeting to discuss [the issue] with them,” said Supervisor Gary Warshauer.

Police Chief David Ryan said the school district is working with a security consulting firm and that he wants to see the results of its security audit before holding further discussions with parents.

“We should wait until the consultants are done,” he said. “We don’t want to tell [parents] the same stuff over and over again. [After the security audit] we will have a much better feel and we can give them some better answers.”

However, Ryan said he’s not sure a permanent police presence at the school is the answer.

“I’m pretty content with what [the district] is doing,” the chief said. “Our guys are there patrolling constantly.”

Ryan said the school has already made “significant improvements” in its security and that providing a full-time police presence has to be considered from a budgetary standpoint.

“These are complicated issues, and we see it differently than parents – to them it’s emotional,” he said.

Ryan said scenarios like the Sandy Hook tragedy are nearly impossible to defend against, but that security measures can be undertaken to prevent smaller-scale shootings.

“The one- or two-shot victims are the ones we have to try and protect against,” he said. “The Adam Lanzas of the world will get in. If you want to protect from that you will have to respond with an equal or greater force, and we’re not going to be able to do that.”

Hochman told the Town Board the district's security adviser, Altaris Consulting Group, has 20 years'  experience and has “been through Pound Ridge Elementary two times.”

Hochman said he’s also conducting an online survey with parents to glean ideas for security and safety and has had more than 600 responses.

“We are looking at things from metal detectors to cameras to a police presence,” he said. “I like the idea of eyes [security cameras] outside the building. We want to see who is pulling up. We’ve been looking at that.”

Town officials say a meeting with parents on security and safety would probably have to be conducted independently of a regular Town Board meeting due to the amount of time it would require. 

“A Town Board meeting is not the forum for this,” Ryan said. “It would push [the regular agenda] right off.”

“When and where we do it – it has the potential for a lot of people,” Warshauer added. “The Town House might not be large enough.”

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Benedict D:

I would like to understand what the criteria is for having police at the Pound Ridge Fall Festival, the parades, or at the Fireworks. Is it based on the number of people attending the event? We have police at these events, as we should. But, we are debating having police protection at a location where 200+ persons are gathered under one roof - for 6-8 hours/day. It is becoming a question of discrimination. To not have equal protection afforded children and teachers while gathered in school, as we give other citizens attending public events, borders on favoritism. I am sure everyone agrees that discriminating against any one race, religion, or group cannot be tolerated - we are better than that! Do not exclude PRES from equal rights of police protection. PRES is a public gathering place, with vulnerable citizens. If an officer is not permanently committed to PRES, we should also discontinue police at the town festivals and gatherings. Lets be fair.

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