GOSHEN – Orange County legislators serving on two oversight committees on Thursday voted against creating a new position of deputy commissioner of emergency services for school safety in the county’s department of emergency services.
The 14 lawmakers – more than half of the total 21-member body – were conflicted as to how to move forward with school safety in the wake of several mass school shootings around the country.
Legislator Jimmy O’Donnell, a retired top-ranking State Police official, supported that proposal, while others including Steven Brescia said creating that position would be a “knee-jerk” reaction.
Law enforcement authorities including Undersheriff Ken Jones and, officials from BOCES and Brendan Casey, commissioner of Emergency Services, had varying views. Jones noted in order to provide a unified protection plan, they need “a buy-in from all the school districts,” prompting some lawmakers to say that school district officials should be brought into the conversation with the county.
Legislator Joe Minuta suggested looking at the plan implemented by a neighboring county.
“Putnam County, from what I am told, has resolved this situation as a county, and they are a small county. They are utilizing the emergency services of their county for this. They have one protocol and methods that are used for their county, and I would say we take a look at that and perhaps template it,” he said.
Other Orange County legislators suggested the county fill a vacant crime analyst position in the regional crime analysis center based in Goshen as the coordinator for a unified safety effort.