Schenectady BOE to vote on expanding police presence in schools

In a vote of 4-3, the Schenectady Board of Education voted to expand police presence in city schools.

During public comment several people voiced their opinions on why they are against the expansion. Some saying they wouldn’t feel safe with their presence.

The district would pay the city $50,000 for each of the officers to start with, with a $2,000 annual increase for the next two years of the agreement. School board member Jamaica Myles said that money could be used for more positive solutions. “A psychologist wrote a letter to the school district about the negative impact of police on schools, but they are also coming from a place of solutions that will make the building safer," she said.

Superintendent Anibal Soler said he wants to redefine how people think about police. “Obviously there’s a lot of historical damage done to communities of color when it comes to police, and sometimes that gets elevated, he said. I think we’ve done a very different approach than most institutions when they bring police in. We were specifically targeting officers of color, if we can find them.”

Many voiced the negative interactions African Americans and people of color have with police, and asked for more mental health services.

“I see them. I hear them. I respect their perspectives, but I do think we have a responsibility to redefine it,” Soler said.

He said they want to hire police from the community and ultimately feels the presence of more officers outweigh the negative.

The vote is on a contract between the Schenectady Police Department and the Schenectady City School District. It calls for the district to obtain the services of six full-time Community Engagement Officers, in an attempt to "help deter criminal behavior through positive interactions with students during school hours".

The contract is slated to end on June 30, 2025.

The Board of Education meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Schenectady High School Auditorium.

MORE: Community Engagement Officer agreement | Schenectady Board of Education agenda