Andy MattisonFeb 22, 2018, 7:10 pmFeb 23, 2018, 4:02 pm

Lower Hudson Valley county executives divided on use of armed officers at schools

But they all agree that school security needs to be improved

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LOWER HUDSON VALLEY, N.Y. — In the wake of last week's mass shooting, the New York Sheriffs Association has called for armed guards to be put at all grade schools and high schools in the state. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus says it's a scenario they have the resources for.

“I don't have a problem with hiring a retired New York City cop or state trooper or local cop. They're highly trained. I would have them in the school to protect them rather than an unarmed guard," Neuhaus said.

Neuhaus says this issue was discussed after the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut, but the county never took any action. Westchester County Executive George Latimer seemed to agree with Neuhaus about having authorities in charge of school security but wouldn't go as far as endorsing armed officers.

"Yes, we do have to try to improve security as much as we can in these places, and I think our professional county police can assist local governments. Local police are also very alert to these things," Latimer said.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day agrees that school security needs to be front and center after last week's deadly shooting but says staffing an armed officer is costly and might not be the only solution to the issue.

“One issue to consider is how much it would cost to have armed police officers in schools. The state sheriffs association says the state should pay for it,” Day said. “Some feel the issue goes beyond stricter security measures to keep students safe.”

Latimer added that keeping guns away from mentally disturbed individuals is also key to tackling the issue.

"You need to be able to identify people who have mental health issues that rise to the level of this type of violence. They're not always detectable in advance," he said.

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