BEDFORD, N.Y.— The Bedford Central School District is seeking community help in funding full-time armed police officers at the entrances of all five elementary schools and the Fox Lane Campus for the remainder of the school year.
Last week, Superintendent Jere Hochman wrote to the governing boards of all three towns in the district: Bedford, Mount Kisco and Pound Ridge. His letter says that if help funding armed officers is not possible, the district wants unarmed guards instead.
In the meantime, the district has retained a security consultant, Altaris Consulting Group, to do safety audits of all district buildings, Hochman said at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting.
“They provided me with a lot of advice” on installing temporary improvements to school perimeters and vestibules, Hochman said, but the district is asking for town support “until we have a complete report done and everything in place.”
The Bedford Town Board rejected the request at its meeting Tuesday night. The Pound Ridge board will address the matter at its next meeting. Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich said he discussed the letter in executive session with the village’s board of trustees.
“In my opinion, it involves security issues that I don’t think should be publicized. But if we vote on any budget changes, obviously it will be in public,” Cindrich said.
Bedford Police Chief William Hayes has met with Hochman, the other two towns' police chiefs, and the Altaris group privately as well as with members of the district’s safety committee and has spoken at recent parent safety meetings.
Hayes said his department currently has 28 officers due to recent retirements when it is budgeted for 40 and that officers are currently working extra hours.
Hayes said it would cost $800,000 to hire four officers for West Patent, Bedford Village and Bedford Hills Elementary Schools and the Fox Lane Campus and provide vehicles.
Parents attending Tuesday night's Bedford Town Board meeting became emotional. John Sauro of Pound Ridge, who is circulating a petition for armed police officers in the schools, told the board that providing school children with the protection of local law enforcement is a matter of public safety.
Since the school district crosses municipal lines, the expense for officers should be shared, Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts said Tuesday. But while the Bedford will help respond to any school emergency, district issues, including security, are under the Board of Education’s purview, which is better equipped to assess school needs, he said.