ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- This year, elementary students in Elmira are interacting with four new school resource officers. On Monday, the Chemung County Legislature approved the move, expanding the current S-R-O program into all eight elementary schools within the Elmira City School District.
"Our goal was to really increase security and safety within our schools and second to give our students an opportunity to develop relationships with law enforcement," says District Superintendent Hillary Austin.
For the past few years, the district has assigned four full-time officers to area middle and high schools.
For many, now working among the younger students is a first.
"This is my first time in an elementary school," says Tom Huffman, an SRO for the district. "The kids are [definitely] more receptive. The older kids are a little bit harder to connect with [but] little kids, no problem."
The new hires are all retired police officers from agencies across the area.
Not only are they ensuring students' safety, but also working to foster community policing.
"It's building relationships with kids who a lot of them don't always have a great outlook on police officers," says Huffman. "Now they see us in a different light. They're not the bad guys that some people say they are."
"When these kids transfer into the middle schools and the high schools, they're already used to these officers being in there," says Chemung County Undersheriff William Schrom. "They know what role they play and relationship wise I think it's a huge benefit."