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NNCS plans talks with Norwood, Norfolk regarding school resource officer

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NORFOLK - Norwood-Norfolk Central School Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie told board of education members Tuesday night that she plans to meet with officials in Norwood and Norfolk to talk about a suggestion to place a school resource officer in the district at the suggestion of a Norfolk councilman.

The suggestion by Councilman Robert J. Harvey during Monday night’s Norfolk Town Board meeting was in response to a late January incident at the school in which a Norfolk man entered the school wearing a shoulder holster with a black Desert Eagle BB pistol beneath his jacket.

Steven R. Wells had been charged by state police with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree harassment and fourth-degree stalking Jan. 25 following an early morning incident at the school.

Wells had arrived at the school at 7:20 a.m. seeking to deliver a package to a teacher he had spent time with in the days before the incident. The teacher told police Wells had been stalking her in the days prior to the incident. Wells was taken into custody without incident at the school that morning.

Mr. Harvey had discussed his suggestion with town board members Monday night, and he phoned Mrs. Kirnie on Tuesday to share those thoughts.

“Norfolk is considering using some of their police force in conjunction with Norwood,” she told school board members, noting she planned to meet with village and town officials over the next week to discuss the possibilities.

One of the questions, she said, is how the position would be funded. In some cases, an officer on duty could be reassigned to the school, covering that cost, Mrs. Kirnie said.

Mr. Harvey had noted that Norfolk has a number of part-time police officers who alternate to provide the town with 48 hours of police service during the week. With only one officer on staff during a shift, he suggested officers could be assigned to work at the school.

But what remains is the question about how they would financially cover any extra hours that might be involved, according to Mrs. Kirnie, who echoed sentiments expressed by Norfolk Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice Monday night. He said students encompass five separate townships as well as the village of Norwood and a funding mechanism would need to be developed to share the cost of the post.

Mr. Pernice had also noted that they would have to determine whether the school or local government should pay for the position and if Norwood or Norfolk police should staff the position.

Norwood Mayor James H. McFaddin agreed Tuesday that there would need to be more discussion before a decision could be reached.

“I think it’s a good move on their (Norwood-Norfolk’s) part. We should do everything we can to protect our children,” he said.

Mr. McFaddin said he would prefer to use retired police officers rather than Norwood police and did not have a timetable for the discussions or when a decision might be reached.

Norwood’s mayor said that, when they met, they would need to consider and discuss the qualifications of the school resource officer, how to execute their plan, what that officer would do within the school, who should pay and whether the parties involved in the effort could afford to pay.

However, Mr. McFaddin said, he believed the funding should be a joint effort between Norwood, Norfolk, the school, state police and the sheriff’s department.

“I think we all ought to be in this together,” he said.

The last time Norwood-Norfolk had a school resource officer in the district was 2008 when now-retired New York State Trooper Kenneth J. “Juddy” Plumb split his time between Norwood-Norfolk and Parishville-Hopkinton.

Mr. Plumb, who began school resource officer duties in 2005, retired in 2008 and was not replaced. Prior to his arrival in the district, Trooper Marc McDonnell had been assigned as SRO on a temporary basis. Trooper Michael Pinckney was the district’s first school resource officer.

Staff writer Tim Fenster contributed to this report.

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