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
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.”