LAKE SHORE — The Seneca Nation of Indians is teaming up with the Lake Shore School District to expand its School Resource Officer program. The partnership will run for three years and also includes the Silver Creek school district.
Funding totals $730,000 for the new officers, who will be placed in Lake Shore and Silver Creek school districts, and will be overseen by the Evans Police Department and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, respectively. Neither district currently has these officials.
Douglas Tubinis was appointed to the position of the School Resource Officer.
“The chief did a positing within our department and then held interviews and Douglas was the most serious and was selected after the interview process,” Supervisor Keith Dash said.
“The town of Evans always had a D.A.R.E. officer in the schools and because of funding, both at the state and local levels, the D.A.R.E. officer was dropped as a program and it wouldn’t be picked up with the school district or with the state. And since our D.A.R.E. officer was dropped, we’ve been without an assigned Evans police officer to the school district because of funding.
“This was an opportunity that the president of the Seneca Nation, Barry E. Snyder Sr., realized that there are a lot of native students who attend the school districts in Gowanda, Silver Creek and Lake Shore. There has been a resource officer on duty at Olean and Gowanda, previous to this appointment. This appointment was not only for Lake Shore to get a resource officer but also for the Silver Creek school district.
“It’s an opportunity to protect not only native students but all the students, and I think that this is a great commitment by the Seneca Nation, especially toward public education and Lake Shore Central, in particular,” he continued. “I’m very excited about this. It’s a three-year deal and the nation will pick up the salary benefits of Officer Tubinis to show their commitment.”
Dash added that “only time will tell” if the SRO program will be renewable in the future.
“Maybe in the future we will have to look at something else, as far as funding, but in light of the increase in school-related crime and violence, not only in New York state but nationwide, I think this program is a good thing.”
Dash also credited Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo for his hard work and dedication this partnership, as well as his willingness to see it through to completion.
“I know Chief Masullo has worked on this for a long time,” Dash added. “On behalf of this board and on behalf of the residents, chief, thank you for your stick-to-it-tiveness and making sure that this came to fruition. As public note, the resource officer’s salary and benefits are being taken care of by the Seneca Nation, while he is appointed to that position.”
The Seneca Nation began its School Resource Officers program in 2012 with the Salamanca and Gowanda school districts. The SROs are available to ‘help children address bullying problems, drug and alcohol issues and stresses at home,’ among other issues.