Earlier this month, South Orangetown Central School District welcomed Chris Connolly as its new district-wide School Resource Officer (SRO). Connolly is assigned to the District on a full-time basis during the school year and covers all four schools, but works primarily in South Orangetown Middle School and Tappan Zee High School. “The SRO Program helps us maintain a safe and secure learning environment for our students and staff. Officer Connolly will collaborate with our administrators and connect with our students on topics including civic rights and responsibilities and law enforcement career exploration,” said Executive Director for Finance and Management Services Alicia Koster.
A 13-year Orangetown Police Department veteran who was raised in South Orangetown, Connolly is enthusiastic about his new assignment. “I want kids to feel comfortable coming to me when they need someone to trust or need help. I will always try to keep an open mind and have an open conversation. My door is open and if I don’t have the right answer, I’ll get it for them,” he said.
Connolly noted that a consistent, positive presence is key to building strong relationships. “When the school safety initiative first began, kids were surprised and nervous to see police officers in their schools,” he explained. “But after a little while, they began to say hello and realize that seeing us in school doesn’t mean that there’s an emergency or a crisis. We are here to help.”
All School Resource Officers in New York State are required to participate in specialized training to prepare them to work in an academic environment, which includes counseling, promoting drug-free schools and crisis management.
Connolly replaces former SRO Andrew Vergine, who was promoted to Detective/Youth Officer with the Orangetown Police Department. He can be reached during school hours at (845) 680-1777.