Oriskany, NY (WIBX) - Several law enforcement agencies are announcing a partnership with area schools to help young people stay away from drugs. C. Edward Schmidt is the Coordinator for the Oneida County School Resource Officer Coalition. He says the specially trained officers, or SRO's, will be assigned to 11 school districts throughout the county to help maintain a safe learning environment for students and teachers.


"The SRO is specially trained and performs three main functions; law enforcement officer, law related counselor and law related educator. In addition, the SRO works in collaboration with the school and the community as a resource," Schmidt said.

The collaboration is between the Oneida County SRO Coalition, and the New York National Guard "Stay On Track Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Program." For some schools, the 12-lesson, 45-minute interactive program starts next Monday, (3/19) and will be conducted during a normal class room period at a time best suitable for school administrators.

The law enforcement agencies taking part in the program include, Oneida County Sheriff's Office, New Hartford Police Department, Kirkland Police Department and the Oriskany Police Department. The SRO's will lead the class room program for students in grades 6 through 8.

Oneida County Sheriff, Robert Maciol says the program is another tool to help teach youngsters important values and prepare them for life. "Because of the financial situation that all municipalities are facing, we need to get creative. Just because there's a burden on our budgets we can't stop working with our kids and teaching them the dangers of drugs and teaching them their life skills that they're going to need to have with them for the rest of their lives as they grow up, he said.

Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente says the collaboration signifies the dedication of the area's law enforcement community, and added that one of the reasons he likes the program is because it doesn't cost the county any money. "And, it has made a difference in the schools. It continues to do that everyday," he said.  Some participating schools have already taken part in the program, but officials are encouraging more participation from schools that haven't signed up for the free program.

Stay on Track lessons consist of:

  • Consequences of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
  • Normative Behavior
  • School, Peer and Family Bonding
  • Stress Management Skills
  • Decision-Making Skills
  • Goal-Setting Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Media Literacy Skills

To learn more about the Stay On Track Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Program, visit, www.stayontrack-online.com or www.counterdrug.com.