Police officers and students are forming a bond at the Eden Central School District. Senator Patrick Gallivan appeared at the high school Tuesday announcing he secured a $25,000 grant to provide funding for a School Resource Officer program. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says two town of Eden officers are splitting SRO duties.
“Our door is always open to the students. That's our goal is to have a connection with the students,” said Eden Police Sergeant Shawn Bishop.
Officer Bishop is one of the SRO officers. He’s a 25-year police veteran. He retires at the end of December and will be solely conducting SRO duties for Eden Schools.
"I know most of your parents and I look forward every day to come into the schools, speaking to the children and getting that connecting with the kids,” Officer Bishop stated.
The District brought in a School Resource Officer at the start of this school year.
Officer Brian Burgstahler is sharing the duties with Officer Bishop. They have direct, daily contact with students throughout the school day, learning about students and helping to keep a watch on their mental health.
“It is an on-going problem the mental health issue. We try to educate the children on if they say other issues with another child that’s not normal or not their behavior on a day-to-day basis to report that. Just look out for their friends and look out for their fellow students,” explained Officer Burgstahler. "The ultimate goal is the safety of everyone in this building. Secondly, we work with the staff. We advise them on legal issues. If there's an issue the student has, we can advise them on the law and the third thing we do is educate."
The School Resource Officers also in the classroom, discussing on-line and social media safety and drug and alcohol abuse.
Eden High School students Drew Brenner and Connor Blake said at first students weren't sure what it would be like having such a high level of authority in the building, but quickly learned the officers are very approachable and helpful.
“Yeah it’s unique. It’s good. It gives kids a chance to go up if they have a problem,” said Brenner.
“It makes us feel safe and like we’re welcomed into the school with no harm being within the schedule of the day,” remarked Blake.
Student Jenna Jacobs said she also feels safer with the officers in their school buildings.
“I’ve talk to Officer Burgstahler about school, he just comes and walks around the school and it’s just nice to talk to him occasionally,” replied Jacobs.
Tougher security measures were also implemented in the distirct. Students must enter and exit out one door with a staffer and officer keeping close watch.
Senator Gallivan has also secured state funds for other SRO programs in several other school districts, that includes North Collins, Alden, West Seneca, East Aurora and Alden.