VERONA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY)- Upon requests from some Oneida County School Districts, the Sheriff’s Office is looking to hire 20 Special Patrol Officers (SPOs) for the 2022-2023 school year.

Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol told NewsChannel 9 he’s looking to add to the 114 SPOs he already has. He said the request came after the Uvalde Texas school shooting. “Each time there’s been a tragedy somewhere in the country I think you see more people realizing that we have to be prepared.” Maciol adds, “It’s not a matter of whether this is going to happen, now it’s a thought of where and when.”

Vernon Verona Sherrill Central School District is one of the districts that requested an SPO. Superintendent for the district, Martha Group, said she’d do anything to make sure students, faculty, and staff, feel comfortable. “In order for children to be open and available to learn, they need to feel safe, they need to be in what we call a safe and welcoming environment so they can focus on what is happening or the task at hand.”

Group is responsible for more than 1,800 students in five buildings. Some of her buildings didn’t have SPOs in them full-time. “We had an SPO that was shared between W.A. Wettel Elementary in Vernon and J.D. George Elementary in Verona and so what we felt is that it was important for us to have someone in all of our buildings full time.”

Group said the SPOs are a great addition to the schools and expressed the importance of building relationships. “To see them on a day-to-day basis so they can appreciate what they bring to the entire community in terms of safety and security.”