Will spend $2 million of pandemic funds
Putnam County will earmark $2 million for the sheriff and the Department of Social Services to work with superintendents at the county’s school districts, including Haldane and Garrison, on a security review, County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced on Tuesday (June 7).
The county said in a statement that the money will come from the $19.1 million it expects to receive from federal pandemic relief. The funding is being made in response to the killings on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, and the “endless cycle of school shootings,” the county said.
“We need to acknowledge that school shootings can happen anywhere, even in Putnam, the safest county in the state, and we need to prepare in order to prevent a tragic event from occurring here,” Odell said. “There is no better use for ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] money than to protect our schools and find ways to identify and help students who might be experiencing a mental health crisis before it’s too late.”
The county said its officials will work with superintendents on what Sheriff Kevin McConville called “a critical review and assessment of our schools, safety programs and intervention procedures,” along with “a fresh appraisal of emergency management plans, preparedness and response actions,” including syncing technology between schools and law enforcement.
At the Tuesday (June 7) meeting of the county Legislature, Nancy Montgomery, a Democrat whose district includes Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley, criticized Odell and her Republican colleagues for focusing on mental illness as the cause of mass shootings while she said they had refused her requests to increase funding for such services and would not consider gun-control legislation.
“The Putnam County Executive and the Legislature have failed to significantly increase funding for mental health year after year,” she said. “In fact, they decreased funding in 2021.”