Heading into the 2018-2019 school year, the Wallkill Central School District expanded its School Resource Officer (SRO) and School Patrol Officer (SPO) programs to ensure that all five district schools had a daily police presence. The district reached agreements with the Shawangunk Police Department, the Plattekill police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to supply officers to each district school.
With the school year winding down, Shawangunk Police Chief Gerald Marlatt reported during the Shawangunk Town Board’s June 6 meeting that the agency is in talks with the district to extend their SRO arrangement. As part of the SRO program, the Shawangunk police have one officer stationed at the high school, the middle school and Ostrander Elementary.
Marlatt said that the language to the agreement could be adjusted so that a part-time officer could be placed at the middle school, instead of the department being contractually obligated to place a full-time officer there. The potential change would not impact the police presence at the school however.
The SRO issue was tabled at Thursday’s meeting, with Town Supervisor John Valk noting that the town had until September to finalize terms with the district. “Yes, we’ve had good feedback,” Valk said of the program. “The only thing that was new to me tonight was the chief brought up that the school would like a different officer in the middle school. So he has to do a little shell game and shuffle it around. The police union wants some input into the contract, so that’s why he’s trying to get the contracts from the Sheriff’s Department and see what language they have in there.”
During his report to the council, Marlatt noted that the Wallkill Volunteer Ambulance Corps is planning on having a recruiting day open house event on Aug. 24 at their facility and the nearby soccer field. The event, which would include an appearance by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office diving team and a helicopter landing, is designed to attract more volunteers to the ambulance crew.
The police chief also explained that the department has had recent success in procuring assorted vehicles and supplies through the Department of Defense Federal Excess Program.
“We’ve been getting a lot of rave reviews, especially over Memorial Day, about the Humvee,” Marlatt told the board. “But I heard there were a couple of negative comments about it, and just wanted to make sure that everybody understood that we would never go out and purchase something like that. It was totally free of charge. It didn’t cost the town anything. So when it was free, we went to grab it and we will have limited uses for it. It’s all-wheel drive and it’ll go through just about anything.”
Officers found free items at Fort Drum in Jefferson County that they hope to put to good use. “We’ve been searching extensively, trying to stay as local as we can within a four-hour driving radius to the military bases, trying to see what other surplus property we can get,” Marlatt informed the board. “We got a speed sign, similar to the one we had.” The police department was also able to secure duffel bags, a paper shredder and a small electric vehicle for the rail trail through the program.
After the municipality utilized a pair of open house meetings in the winter to collect public input on potential changes to the town’s comprehensive plan, Shawangunk Planner Bonnie Franson began crafting amendments to the document. Franson was scheduled to submit a draft of the plan to the Shawangunk Rezoning Committee by the end of last week. Before any potential zoning changes are adopted, the board will hold a public hearing on the plan to collect additional feedback from residents.