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The Seneca Nation of Indians is expanding its School Resource Officer programs by funding officers in the Lake Shore and Silver Creek school districts for three years, it was announced Wednesday.

Funding totals $730,000 for the new officers – one in each district, who will be overseen by the Evans Police Department and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, respectively. Neither district currently has a school resource officer.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning at the Cattaraugus Territory in Irving.

In 2012, the Seneca Nation began its SRO program with the Salamanca and Gowanda school districts, whose programs are overseen by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office. That program, which features four sheriff’s deputies, runs through the end of this year.

“School-based policing has emerged in recent years as an effective area of law enforcement,” said Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr. “We strongly believe its effectiveness can, in large part, be attributed to the program’s collaborative nature, which combines the efforts by police agencies, educators, students, parents and communities.”

“The goal here is simple: to promote safer schools and safer kids,” Snyder continued. “It is often said that education is the key to a better future.”

The SROs are available to help children address bullying problems, drug and alcohol issues, and stresses at home, among other things. They will be active in after-school events on the Nation’s territories and school properties.

Officials from both school districts expressed gratitude Wednesday for the program and the collaboration that made it happen.

“This is an investment in the safety and well-being of our students, parents, employees and entire school community,” said Lake Shore Superintendent James E. Przepasniak.

Silver Creek Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich said: “The Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputy will add another layer of security to our building, making it an even safer place for our students.”

Tribal Councillor Nikki Seneca said the Seneca Nation leadership feels the SROs are a necessity to the safety and success of Seneca children and all children.

“In times where schools are faced with budget cuts and positions such as the school resource officers are no longer being funded, the Seneca Nation is glad to step up to help support such an important position in our local school districts,” she said.