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Friday, April 20, 2018


DA's concerns school security

To the editor:
District Attorney Jim Farrell delivered these remarks at a meeting of the Sullivan West Board of Education on April 14.
Tonight I am here to respectfully ask the Board to very carefully consider how and to what extent our schools are secured from foreign threats.
I am also here to ask that you appropriate in next year's budget - sufficient funds to provide an armed school resource officer in a full-time capacity for each of our district's campus locations. Currently, the district has only one resource officer who splits time between the campuses.
A disclaimer: I am not here to debate our nation's gun laws. We can have that debate and try to find solutions but I can assure you that as prosecutor over the last 22 years that our criminal laws, while important, do not stop criminals from committing heinous acts. New York's, toughest in the nation gun laws, do not prevent criminal from obtaining and using illegal guns.
Our world has changed. The threats we as a society face have grown exponentially in the recent past. From terrorism to mass killings at our nation's schools we live in a very dangerous world. The threats that our two rural schools face are real and cannot be ignored, understated or dismissed.
To believe it cannot happen here is shortsighted and unrealistic. It can happen anywhere.
As you are well aware, each day over 1,000 students walk the halls of the High School in Lake Huntington and run through the corridors of the Elementary School in Jeffersonville. Over 100 administrators, teachers and school related personnel inhabit these two buildings, creating an educational experience that is beyond match. (And, I don't say that just because I live here, my daughter is in the HS and my son graduated from here or am married to one of those excellent teachers).
School safety and security is not a luxury.
School safety and security is not an extra.
School safety and security is not an add-on.
School safety and security is essential.
School safety and security is a priority.
This school district, indeed every school district, needs, in each building, in order to properly protect our children and secure our buildings, an armed, trained, school resource officer on site to neutralize any and all threats to our children and the teachers and staff employed in our buildings. The presence of such an armed and trained professional police officer provides both a deterrent for anyone intent on reeking death and destruction in our schools and an immediate response, on site, to eliminate or neutralize any threats immediately. And, in these situations time is of the essence.
One of the most effective ways to reduce the threat of firearms is to have a carefully selected well trained professional police officer on site during the school day. These officers, as we know, build relationships with students and often learn of threats before weapons are used. In those cases, these SROs are able to eliminate threats before any harm occurs and should a weapon be brought to the school an on-site SRO can mitigate the effects by stopping the assailant, providing lifesaving first aid to victims and coordinating emergency response.
Our children's lives are beyond economic measure.
Our teacher's lives are beyond economic measure.
Our school employees, be they clerical, administrative, staff, custodial are beyond economic measure.
Our children deserve to be safe in our schools after we drop them off for the day.
As a father of one of those students I would like this board to ensure that an armed SRO is present on site to protect my child.
As the husband of one of your teachers I would like this board to ensure that an armed SRO is present on site to protect my wife.
As District Attorney, I would like this board to ensure that every child, every teacher, every staff member, is protected by an armed SRO in each of the district's campuses, both the High School and the Elementary School. (8.6 miles apart).
When I go to work every day in the Sullivan County Courthouse I am protected with armed police officers with guns. We protect our courthouses. We make it a priority. And, we have two courthouses, one on the hill in Monticello and one in Family Court and both, not just one, both are protected by armed police officers. Multiple police officers - for buildings half the size of our schools. Safety and security at our courthouses is important.
When I walk into the Government Center in Monticello or the Family Services building in Liberty I am protected with armed police officers with guns. We protect our government buildings. We make it a priority. Safety and security at our government buildings is important. Same can be said for our state government buildings in Albany and our federal government buildings in Washington, D.C. All protected by police officers with guns.
When I go to a Met game at Citi Field or a Yankee game at Yankee Stadium I and other fans are protected by armed police officers with guns. We protect our sports arenas. All of them. We make it a priority. Safety and security at sporting events is important.
When I get on an airplane and go to one of our airports I am protected with armed police officers with guns. We protect our airports and our airplanes. All of them. We make it a priority. Safety and security at airports is important.
Our children deserve no less.
Our children deserve to be protected.
Our children deserve to be secure.
Our children deserve to be safe.
Our children deserve to be protected by an armed police officer.
No parent deserves to discover that after they sent their child to school, thinking they were safe and secure, that their child was killed in an act of unimaginable violence, and I beseech this board to give our children the best chance to come home alive by staffing each building with an armed SRO.
Nothing can absolutely prevent evil but:
we can be proactive,
we can be vigilant,
we can be ready,
we can be prepared,
we can slow evil down, and
we can properly staff our school buildings to be in the best position to cut evil down, to stop and neutralize active threats at our schools.
I know that other school districts are having these conversations and I ask you to protect our children, just like our airports, our airplanes, our courthouses, our sporting arenas, and our government buildings.
We need to put armed SROs in our schools who will protect our children. We need to protect both of our campuses. I would also ask that you consider the entrances to the buildings - adding tinted windows to the entrances, ensuring a fishbowl at all entrances (2 sets of locked entrance doors) and consider hiring armed security to protect the entrances. This is the only manner in which to fully harden our buildings from the threats of violence.
The cost of not securing our schools from threats and the brutal acts of violence we have had to bear witness to over the recent past is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the blood of our innocent children. We must protect our children.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jim Farrell
Monticello, NY

FASO votes Freedom First

To the editor:
Recently Amy Rothstein wrote condemning Rep. Faso for co-sponsoring the National Reciprocity Act 2017, which Congress passed and is an overdue Act of Freedom. Amy says that now people from other states can carry concealed in our state, it's all 50 Amy, without a permit and a bunch of other scare tactics called ‘bloodshed in the streets' used by the anti's when something good like this is about to happen except the bloodshed never comes . Amy this Act is not law of the land yet.
Amy, the Bill says - ‘A qualified individual must: (1) be eligible to possess, transport, or receive a firearm under federal law; (2) carry a valid photo identification document; and (3) carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by any state or be eligible to carry a concealed firearm in his or her state of residence.'
Amy says out-of-staters will undermine the NY people's will (actually politicians will) of gun restrictions, meanwhile criminals still don't obey these laws, continue gun violence and etc.
Amy doesn't mention that NY'ers will be able to carry outside of NY likewise! Maybe within the 5 Boro's as we can't now, part of our own state! Imagine Americans using their Constitutional Rights across our land like the privilege of a driver's license.
Amy says vote for a democrat, no matter who it is because of this. That open statement means if this democrat wants to burn the Constitution and make America Communist leaving you no rights at all Amy says to vote for over Faso who defends our Constitution and Freedoms!
Amy insults the NRA who teaches gun safety! Talks about the Mercers but leaves out the Steyers and Simons families who financially support democrats.

IF politicians don't vote Freedom First or For the Constitution, we'll be like Russia.

Don Dittmer
Lake Huntington

Regarding Mindfulness

To the editor:
I am responding to the letter published April 10, ‘are they ignoring school board policy?' I agree school boards should take a clear stand on health education, including ‘mindfulness'. There should be no confusion about its value.
Separation of church and state is a modern concept. Saint Teresa of Avila was a psychologist and meditation master before there were secular words for such things.
She founded Carmelite convents and taught her sisters to meditate. This doesn't make mindfulness a Catholic tradition any more than an eastern tradition. It's a human tradition found across cultures and grounded in human physiology. Benedictine priest Laurence Freeman, director of the World Community of Christian Meditation, writes ‘the fruits of meditation is not the meditation period itself, but in the manner and quality of our lives'. It's a health practice. I was privileged to study with Brother Laurence. He didn't exclude me for not being Catholic.
There are other things in our schools like this and we have blinders on to fixate on mindfulness. Rastafarianism teaches to not use chemical additives in food. Do we need to be on the lookout for school nutritionists trying to convert our children to Rastafarianism? Islam prohibits alcohol. Do we investigate teachers who counsel against using alcohol of crossing the line between church and state? Sports competitions and the Olympics began in Pagan Greece. Do we end competitive sports in schools and investigate coaches who may be advocating Paganism?
We have a great deal of knowledge about what will make children healthier and help them to live lives of wellness and achieve their ambitions. Evidence based practices of good physiology and good psychology, like physical fitness, mindfulness, nutrition, and avoiding addictions are found in the world's religions. This is not a reason to ban teaching health practices in our schools.

Mike Weddle, MD

More about Tusten's constabulary

To the editor:
Regarding your article in the April 12th edition, the Tusten Constabulary Committee not only discussed what a part time on road constabulary would cost the taxpayers but, at the same time, drafted a survey which featured several attributes of why a constabulary might be beneficial to the town's residents.
Namely the following points:
Code enforcement officer support, Special event and meetings security, Out of town/ vacation/ seasonal home and business checks, Elderly and infirm checks, Emergency response support, Traffic enforcement, service of court summonses,
Initial investigation of suspicious activities, Assisting the animal control officer in enforcing stray dog and licensing laws, Assisting local fire companies with traffic control.
Sadly, this survey, which went through five drafts from November 2017 to February 2018, in which the town board was kept in the loop never received approval from that board to be mailed out to residents for their input so that the board could eventually make an informed decision about this matter in time for the summer season.
At the same time, this topic was discussed publicly, and at length, at three separate town board meetings during the winter months.
Additionally, due diligence was gathered from other towns and agencies as well.
I wish the committee success in their endeavors and hope that the public will have a chance to voice their opinion on this topic.

Tony Ritter
Town of Tusten

Who is The National Rifle Association of America (NRA)

To the editor:
The NRA was first chartered in the State of New York on November 16, 1871 by Army and Navy Journal editor William Conant Church and Captain George Wood Wingate. Founded to advance rifle marksmanship, the modern NRA continues to teach firearm safety and competency.
The organization also publishes several magazines and sponsors competitive marksmanship events and has a membership of 5 million as of 2013. The organization is led by a board of 76 elected members who are nominated by committee or by petition from the membership. The NRA is one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington, D.C.
Mark Robinson recently joined the NRA, he is a black man, born and raised in Greensboro, NC and is currently going to UNCG to become a History Professor. He works at a furniture manufacturing plant, and went to the city council meeting in Greensboro.
His comments have gone viral,(google or Youtube him) after his impassioned plea in favor of 2nd Amendment gun rights and against the talk of shutting down a local gun show where he intended to do research on the purchase of his first firearm.
Please turn off your fake news/media hype and turn on your brains. Our nation's removal of God from the public square is the main reason for the exponential increase in violence since the 1960s. Putting God back in His rightful place in the USA as well as improved mental health programs, more gun safety education, added security/surveillance and increased policing can protect us all better than just the removal of gun rights or any specific style rifle.

God bless America, One nation under God, in God we trust.

John “JP” Pasquale
Livingston Manor, NY

The number one public health problem in the United States

To the editor:
Take a guess at what the number one public health problem is in these United States?
If you guessed alcoholism or alcohol-related problems, you would be correct.
As if this isn't bad enough, adding more fuel to this fire is our youth's fascination with alcohol. No other substance is more widely used, and abused, by kids than alcohol. It remains the ultimate gateway drug.
Unfortunately, parents oftentimes overlook underage drinking behaviors as part and parcel of rites of passage. Actually, they are not. Prevention science has long since proven the fact that the longer children delay drinking, and other drug use, the less likely they are to develop addiction problems around those behaviors. Brain science has proven that the adolescent brain does not reach a level of maturity until age 25; thus, any drug introduced prior may result in serious, unforeseen consequences. Regrettably, it does not take long for addiction to steadily evolve into a chronic, progressive brain disease; and the likelihood increases if substance addiction runs in one's family.
Parents can play a crucial role in fostering a change of attitude, by helping kids accept that drinking alcohol won't make them more socially acceptable; or cool; or better able to have a good time. Non-use is a sound, healthy, viable option.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month - a most apropos time for parents to address the issue of underage drinking with their kids. Remember, it is best to strive for an open, fluid, and honest conversation with your sons and daughters. Reserve judgment. Listen. Be encouraging and supportive. Take advantage of this teachable moment. It will be well-worth the effort.
For more information, please visit the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) website, founder and sponsor of Alcohol Awareness Month, since 1987, at:
*Sullivan County has had a social host law (Law No. 4) on the books since 2012, more recently known as Jared's Law, which makes it unlawful for anyone over the age of 18 to knowingly allow alcohol consumption by any minor on premises they own, rent, or otherwise control.

Luisa Parker & Lynn Baron

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