by Bob Dumas
LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Thanks to an $80,000 state grant, the Katonah-Lewisboro School District will once again have a school resource police officer (aka youth officer) patrolling the halls of its buildings.
The position, which was once held by the now Lewisboro Chief of Police Frank Secret, became the victim of town budget cuts several years ago.
The grant was secured by state Sen. Greg Ball, (R-C, Patterson), whose district includes Lewisboro and Katonah.
“It’s called a bullet aid grant,” Ball explained. “We received $600,000 this year for educational purposes, which was to be spread around my district. It’s a done deal – passed by legislative resolution. The school will use the money for a school resource officer.”
Secret said the department has hired South Salem resident Andrew Llewellyn, 32, to fill the full-time position. Llewellyn is currently a town employee and is also the chief of the South Salem Fire Department.
“He’s a family man with two children and this is a career that he’s always wanted,” Secret said. “I think he’s going to do a great job. It’s a very unique job that requires some unique training. How [a police officer] handles juveniles is a whole other world. It’s all about building relationships and stopping them from getting in trouble before it happens.”
As the school resource officer, Llewellyn will spend his time in all the school district’s buildings, from the four elementary schools to the middle school to the high school. He began his training on Monday at the Westchester County Police Academy in Valhalla.
“This is something we had in the past and I know the kids had a warm relationship with Frank Secret,” said Charles Day, vice president of the Katonah-Lewisboro Board of Education.
Day said that, fiscally speaking, there will be no commitment from the school board for the coming school year.
However, that could change after the year is over. While Ball stated that he would continue to seek the grant for the district each year for as long as he is in office, school officials have noted that is unpredictable and if no grant money is made available past 2013, other options, such as sharing the cost with the town, would need to be discussed.
“Ball said he promised to keep it going as long as he’s in office, but we can’t bank on that,” said Schools Superintendent Paul Kreutzer. “I won’t advocate that [the school district] put up 100 percent of the bill [should the grant money be lost]. It will have to come from several coffers. We will have to cobble something together with Lewisboro and Katonah, but it won’t be at the expense of our education mission.” (ARTICLE)