September 05, 2018 07:39 PM
The push for armed officers inside public schools continues in New York State.
Earlier this year, Sheriff Barry Virts announced the New York State Sheriffs' Association would fight for Student Resource Officers, or SROs, in every public school.
Wayne County has doubled its number of SROs to seven full-time deputies and, for the first time, all public school districts in Ontario County will have an SRO assigned.
Inside Bloomfield schools, that SRO is Deputy Dyson Williamson.
With ten years on the force, seven of those have been dedicated to being a Student Resource Officer.
However, it isn't the first career he's had inside of a school.
"I switched careers a little later in life than most people," he laughed, explaining he was a physical education teacher for nearly ten years before getting into an administrative role.
After teaching in Victor, he decided to apply for a position with the Ontario County Sheriff's Office; pairing his education background with his military experience.
"It was almost a welcome back to education" said the Marine Corps vet, as he walked through the hallways of the high school.
You'll hardly see him in his office. Instead, he's working alongside the principal and superintendent on how to identify and fix vulnerabilities in the district's security. He's also building relationships with the students.
"They'll come talk to me about anything. Being bullied on social media, advice on joining the military, if they're going through a break-up. I wear a lot of different hats," he said while greeting students in the hallway by name. He added, "I told all the sixth graders I would know their names by the end of the week."
With a school of nearly 1,000 students, he sometimes studies up in the yearbook to get all those names down.
While he keeps his presence positive and light (just ask to see his pink cowboy hat, a gift from students on a recent school trip he chaperoned), he feels the weight of responsibility knowing he is the first-line of defense for the students he knows by name.
"I spend many hours late at night thinking about it…not sleeping. Trying to take episodes in schools, from fighting to shootings, and analyze them. What would I have done? Would I have done it differently? Are we prepared as a school district to handle these things? It is something that does keep me up at night," expressed Deputy Williamson.
He takes those sleepless nights and turns them into action; beefing up security and working out safety plans.
"I put myself in the mind of the person who wants to do harm…I work with the administration to come up with a plan based on 'these are some things I would do', what are our vulnerabilities, our strengths," he explained.
His impact extends past the school walls. On more than one occasion, he gets called if a student gets in trouble off campus.
"The first thing they asked the responding officer is 'can you let Deputy Williamson know that you're talking to me so he doesn't think less of me? That I'm still a good person?' It tugs on your heart strings," he admitted.
The SROs in Ontario County are all career police officers who undergo specialized training. They are all armed while on duty.
Updated: September 05, 2018 07:39 PM
Created: September 05, 2018 07:07 PM
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