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Update on School Safety
Lake George Central School District now has two full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) who are located in both buildings every day that students are in school and for some large evening events. Officer Mark LaFond began in the Jr.-Sr. High School in September, and Officer Rob LeBarron started at the Elementary School in February. Both SROs were introduced to the students, and they have developed positive relationships with each other. The SROs serve as educators in areas of online safety; bullying prevention; legal areas; and alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. They are committed to connecting with students and staff to share concerns and gain feedback from the experts. They provide the District with a level of expertise around safety and security to help us be proactive should there ever be a crisis.
Officer Mark LaFond started his career as a Warren County Sheriff and later joined the Schenectady Police Department. He was an officer with the Raleigh, NC Police Department when he and his family relocated, then he resumed his career with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department when they returned to NY. He retired from the Sheriff’s Department in January 2017 after 23 years of service.
Officer LeBarron served in the U.S. Army for seven years. He was stationed in Korea; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort McClellan Alabama; Germany; Bosnia; Kosovo; and Fort Detrick, Maryland. After his Honorable Discharge, Officer LeBarron attended Corning Community College and then joined the New York State Police. He was assigned as a road Trooper from 2002-2017 and was stationed at Schroon Lake, High Peaks, Sand Lake, Bolton Landing, and Chestertown. Officer LeBarron was also assigned to the NYS Police Academy as an Academy Training Officer. Most recently, until his retirement from the New York State Police, he was with the Protective Service Unit providing security for the Governor of New York State.
Both SROs are highly visible in each building, especially during pick-up and drop-off times. Officer LaFond has an office near the entrance of the Jr.-Sr. High School, and Officer LeBarron has an office in the library at LGES. They can both be reached by phone during the day.
- Officer Mark LaFond at Jr.-Sr. High School: 518-668-5452 ext. 3000
- Officer Rob LeBarron at LGES: 518-668-5714 ext. 4603
At a recent PTSO meeting, the two SROs enjoyed meeting with parents and community members. Here are some questions that were asked and answered:
Question: Will the SRO arrest students?
Answer: No, SROs will not arrest students. Administrators at each building will continue to use the disciplinary procedures that are currently in place.
Question: Will the SRO search students?
Answer: No, SROs will not conduct searches of students or lockers. Administrators at each building will continue to use the procedures that are currently in place.
Question: Is the SRO considered “Law Enforcement” when working as an SRO?
Answer: Yes, the SROs are active members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and are subject to all of the department’s rules while they are embedded in LGCSD.
Question: What is the level of experience of the SRO in dealing with children in an educational setting?
Answer: Officer LeBarron’s proudest endeavor while serving with the NYS Police was providing local community children with a Stewart's ice cream on a warm summer day. He earned many accolades during his military and law enforcement careers, but the most rewarding titles bestowed upon him are dad and coach. Officer LeBarron currently resides in Lake George NY and is a proud husband and father of three children who attend LGES. He enjoys coaching Lake George Youth baseball and football teams.
Officer LaFond has a background in teaching, as he spent his time in law enforcement providing training for both new recruits at the police academy and for officers at his department. He has transitioned those teaching skills to the classroom, as he has instructed students on a variety of topics during the school year.
In addition, the district sent Officer LaFond to SRO training prior to Officer LeBarron coming on board. There will be ongoing training for the officers.
Question: What changes should we expect in the culture, procedures, and day-to-day activities?
Answer: The SROs’ goal is to blend into the school environment and culture. They want people to look at them as part of the staff, not as police officers. They want to be seen as normal people who wear different clothes.
Question: Will the SROs be in uniform? Can it be situational?
Answer: Yes, the SROs will be in uniform. The Warren County Sheriff’s Department and SROs prefer to remain in uniform with all of its protective equipment. In a crisis situation, uniforms will help responding officers identify SROs as allies.
Question: Will the SROs be armed?
Answer: YES, the SROs will be armed.
Question: How are we paying for this? Tax impact?
Answer: The SRO positions have been built into the annual school budget with no increase in taxes. The safety and security of students, staff, parents, and community members is a top priority. Through the agreement with Warren County, the SRO program consists of only retired law enforcement officers, who have a cap on their salary with no legacy costs in terms of benefits.
Question: Is this a permanent addition?
Answer: Yes, the SROs are a permanent addition to the LGCSD staff. Their expertise and positive attributes are a benefit to the district.
Question: What is the level of authority of this position?
Answer: The SROs report to the building principals and district superintendent. They work as a collaborative team to ensure the safety and security of students, staff, and visitors to the buildings.