On the first day of school in Mahopac, five police officers with guns holstered at the hip were on hand Tuesday morning at the district-wide welcome meeting held in the Mahopac High School gymnasium.
The armed officers will be assigned to the district’s three elementary schools as well as for after-school activities at the complex for the middle school and high school on Baldwin Place Road. The schools will also be monitored by 115 surveillance cameras – 40 inside, and 75 outside the district’s buildings.
“We are working very hard to make you safe,” schools Superintendent Thomas Manko told school staff, which filled the gymnasium bleachers.
Manko said the safety patrol officers would monitor the surveillance cameras.
“They will have access to all the security cameras in your buildings,” Manko said.
The investment in armed security and surveillance cameras in Mahopac is part of millions of dollars invested in local districts, in the wake of Adam Lanza’s rampage in the Newtown schools last year, according to the Sunday story reported by my colleagues at The Journal News.
In Mahopac, the district hired the safety patrol officers through the Putnam County Sheriff’s office, at the cost of $150,000.
The officers received a special welcome at the opening of school. They were seated to the right of Manko, with several top-ranking Putnam leaders: County Executive MaryEllen Odell, County Personnel Director Paul Eldridge, County Sheriff Don Smith, Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmidt, county Legislator Dini LoBue, Board of Education members Earle Bellows, Ray Cote, and Michael Sclafani.
The event featured Manko’s description of the financial challenges facing the district, including the 2014 mandate that all Regents be administered online. It began with a stirring rendition of the Star Spangeled Banner by the high school a capella group, led by music teacher Jennifer Vara.
Photos: Safety patrol officers are introduced at district-wide gathering at Mahopac High School, with school Superintendent Thomas Manko addressing the staff. Photo/David McKay Wilson
The Mahopac school staff fills the gymnasium bleachers. Photo/David McKay Wilson