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School resource officers helping keep Saratoga County schools safe

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CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (WRGB) - His colleagues call him Deputy Muller. At Shenendehowa High School East, he's just known as Eric.

He's one of the two school resource officers that oversee Shenendehowa High School and its surrounding middle and elementary schools. He says when the county started the school resource officer program, students and staff were nervous having a deputy at school. But over time, he's earned their trust.

"Once they grow and learn and see that we're here for them and that we're human beings," he said. "We're here to help and listen and be the resource, hence, the school resource officer, and also mentor them and talk about things other than school."

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo reached out to local school districts shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. He says the program started with 11 school resource officers in the county. He's now added one more. Now he says students and teachers feel safer with them in the hallways.

"Years ago, when you saw the police in your building, there always seemed to be a problem. Those days are gone now. When you see the sheriff in your building, there's nothing to be worried about,” says Deputy Ken Cooper, who oversees all SRO’s.

Zurlo says his SRO's are primarily there for security. He says they're now playing a big role in the low number of incidents at the schools they patrol.

"Threats have come over the last year, where the kids have come to our school resource officer and heard something through social media. We're able to act on it in a timely manner,” Zurlo said.

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Sheriff Zurlo says the program could grow even more, but it all depends on what other school districts get on board with it.

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