DATE/TIME: Friday, June 22nd, 2007 / 02:45 PM

Public Safety Commissioner Wayne E. Bennett today announced the Police Department will be eliminating two of three School Resource Officer positions currently assigned to Schenectady Middle Schools as well as the current DARE officer position due to operational need. The changes will be implemented over the next several weeks following the conclusion of the current school session.

The city police department is currently understaffed by sixteen positions and Mayor Stratton is addressing that long term with up to twelve candidates scheduled to enter the Zone 5 Law Enforcement Academy on July 11. However, that six month training program, as well as the field training that follows would not permit them to be available for patrol duties until late February or early March 2008.

The staffing problem has forced the city to make very difficult but necessary choices based upon priorities. The Police Department, similar to the Fire Department, has a first priority to respond to calls for service from the public in a timely manner. The shortage of personnel is making this most difficult and the Police Department must examine ways to better fulfill this primary responsibility. Although the DARE program has now lost funding, even if funding did exist in the future the decision would not change the options available to the Police Department. Additional program changes are also being examined to further enhance patrol coverage.