Masséna Village Administrators Authorize Agreement with School District for School Resource Officer | Education

MASSENA – Village administrators have passed a resolution authorizing an agreement between the village and the Massena Central School District for the services of school resource officers.

Administrator Francis J. Carvel cast the only negative vote, citing the potential for liability to the village since the SRO would be a village employee within the Massena Police Department.

“The county already has a program where they send a deputy to the schools. It’s a countywide responsibility instead of just being Massena,” Mr. Carvel said.

The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office received approval from the St. Lawrence County Legislature in January to provide armed resource officers to some local school districts, and regional superintendents heard a presentation from the sheriff on the program.

“When I came to this council, they talked about finding ways to reduce our liability. We have to find ways to reduce this liability. Then we turn around and add more liability,” Mr Carvel said. “We have five entities operating in this neighborhood. But, if something happens, the city of Norfolk, the city of Brasher, the city of Louisville and the city of Massena, they will be fine. If something should happen, it is not those with the deepest pockets who pay, it is those with the best lawyers who do not pay.

The school district and the village of Massena had previously worked together to bring an ORS back to the district through an annual agreement. They were looking for an active or retired officer from a local, state or federal police department to serve as a special patrol officer in the district.

Jody W. Daggett worked from the start of the 2019-20 school year until the school closed in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, citing potential liability, village officials chose not to renew the contract. Although Mr. Daggett worked in the Massena Central School District, he was a member of the Massena Police Department. The village was responsible for arranging the training of the SRO, supervising the work of the person and purchasing the necessary equipment for the work. Salary and benefits were paid through a Title 4 grant.

Prior to this, the district had another SRO—then patrolman Patrick J. Serguson, whose salary was paid for by both the school and the village. This position was abolished in 2007 because the village and school district no longer had the funds to maintain it.

Under the resolution passed by administrators, the district would receive the services of an SRO “to promote the goal of ensuring a caring, safe, respectful and orderly learning environment in its schools, as set forth in said protocol of agreement beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2023.

However, Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said there was no July 1 deadline to have a school resource officer in place.

“One thing that I really appreciate that Chief Olson (Chief of Police Jason M. Olson) said is that this person is going to be the right person and not just one person, so if that means it’s not “Won’t happen until November, it only happens in November. That’s when they find the right person, and I think that’s the key,” Paquin said.

“I also see it as a benefit to the police department in that it’s another person who can help with investigations that may lead outside of the school,” the mayor added. “I think it would also be a great asset to the police department.”

Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire said he wanted to make sure the village attorney, Matthew H. McArdle, had a chance to review the agreement before it was signed.

“If you want, I can give him a look, that’s for sure,” Paquin said.

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