Monday, March 12, 2018

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PTA meeting about school safety tells cop top brass they are not welcome

TOWN OF RAMAPO – When Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel and his lieutenant in charge of their school-based policing attended a Central Hudson Region PTA conference on Saturday, they were told the group did not want armed officers there.

The event was billed as a legislation/education breakfast featuring State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. The police officers paid the $50 in registration fees, but the moderator, who is also a school teacher, told them armed uniformed police officers would make people uncomfortable. Weidel made it clear they would not disarm so the officers were told they would not be allowed to speak.

“As it had already been made clear that RPD being there would make the attendees uncomfortable, it was obvious that RPD was not welcome at the event,” a post of the police department’s Facebook page stated. “Five minutes after paying, we simply asked for our registration fee back and the moderate would not refund it” so the two officers left the meeting.

“RPD is extremely disappointed how we were treated as police officers attending a forum expected to include issues relating to student safety. We expect that our individual local PTAs do not feel the same way about us and will denounce what occurred,” the Facebook statement said.

“We want to be very clear to our community: The Ramapo Police Department is committed to the safety of your children in school. We will not let this incident dissuade us from forging forward in every possible way to enhance the safety of your children,” they wrote.

Within hours, the executive director of the New York State PTA, Gracemarie Rozea, responded with an apology saying the regional director of her organization would also be calling with an apology, submitting a written one and asking for an in-person meeting.

Rozea said the incident is “absolutely not PTA policy and contrary to our instructions to our regions.”

She said the state PTA “works in great partnership with our many valued police departments across New York State, together supporting children and families.” She said the PTA “fully support[s] our local police departments and welcome[s] police officers to attend any of our events.”

As soon as Rozea learned of what happened, she said they contacted the regional PTA and “instructed the immediate removal of the individual involved from the region PTA committee structure.”

 


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