Legislator Testa, Colleagues Approve County Police School Resource Officers

Lakeland gets two elementary school officers in addition to the one in Panas HS.
Hendrick Hudson High School gets one SRO, the first for the district.

IMG_1643The Westchester County Department of Public Safety will be providing a total of four police officers to serve as School Resource Officers (SRO) in the Lakeland and Hendrick Hudson School Districts. The positions were created through an amendment to an existing intermunicipal agreement (IMA) which adds three new SRO’s where the existing IMA previously provided one SRO at Walter Panas High School. The newly created SRO positions were approved at the Board of Legislators meeting on September 17, 2018 by a unanimous 16-0 vote.

The new SRO positions were created at the request of the Lakeland and Hendrick Hudson School District Superintendents and supported by County Legislator John Testa. One of the new SRO’s will be assigned to the Hendrick Hudson School District at their High School. The other two additional SRO’s will be assigned to the Lakeland School District at the Van Cortlandtville Elementary School and the Lincoln Titus Elementary School. The new SRO’s will begin immediately with the two new elementary school positions continuing through the last day of school in 2021. The IMA for the Hendrick Hudson SRO runs through the last day of school in 2023.

IMG_1638The SRO’s are critical positions in our schools that provide community policing benefits for children and law enforcement. Establishing familiarity and trust with law enforcement at an early age is especially important for kids who are at risk. SRO activities include deescalating potentially violent situations in an emergency, preventing and investigating criminal activities, preventing juvenile delinquency, working with educators and administrators on programs to prevent drug abuse and most importantly to serve as a role model and source of positive input and mentoring to our youth.

The four SRO positions will be fully funded by the school districts through annual payments by the school district to the county. When school is not in session, the SRO staff will be assigned to patrolling Westchester County’s vast parks system during the busy summer season.

Following the vote, Legislator Testa who is a retired teacher from the Peekskill school district said, “I am grateful to my colleagues for joining me in support of this intermunicipal agreement. We have no more valuable asset in our communities than our children and it is imperative that we provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment in which they can pursue academics as well as the important social and civic responsibilities that they will use for the rest of their lives. We have seen the tremendous benefits that having School Resource Officers as a daily presence in Walter Panas High School and I know that our younger kids will benefit from those relationships as well.”

* All schools receiving these SRO personnel are located within the Town of Cortlandt, which does not have its own police force and is patrolled by the Westchester County Police.

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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