NEW BERLIN – Before seniors at Unadilla Valley Central School departed for their senior trip on Friday, their baggage underwent a safety check by the Town of New Berlin Police Department to ensure no contraband would accompany the students.
Officer Tom Miller, with his trained K9, Nitro, were asked by UVCS administration to carry out a routine check of the students’ bags.
More than 30 seniors signed up for the trip to the New Haven Resort for the weekend, and all students passed the inspection by Miller and Nitro.
According to UV Superintendent Robert Mackey, the presence and assistance of both Miller and Nitro was appreciated. “We’ve had a pretty strong police presence for years, and we like to take advantage of that to ensure that our students and staff are safe,” said Mackey. He added the Chenango Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police have also made a presence in the school.
“Miller and Nitro have made classroom visits, and it helps us, and Nitro,” said Mackey.
Students said they were eager to see the K9, who has done similar checks at the school in the past.
“We’ve done this a few times before,” said Miller. “The students and staff here are great.”
Following the check by Miller and Nitro, faculty members asked students additional questions regarding the contents of their bags, and all were given the green light prior to departure.
UVCS additionally employs a school resource officer, Michael Hilla. The position of school resource officer was recently brought back in an effort to not only educate students and maintain a positive relationship between students and police, but to also to combat issues including bullying and crime prevention.
“Officer Miller and Nitro have been in and out of the school minimally every other month,” said Principal Frank Johnson. “The students know Nitro by name, and we absolutely welcome them into the building.”
Johnson said the visits are not uncommon and they’re often unannounced. The intent is to show students law enforcement in a favorable light.
Officer Miller said he enjoys visiting the school and bringing Nitro. “The students are our future. I try to do as much as I can within the community,” he said.
Following the bag checks, the students spent some time chatting with Miller and Nitro before their bus arrived, and many asked to pet or play with Nitro – who remained approachable and friendly throughout the visit.
“I think the community likes the working relationship with the law enforcement too,” said Johnson. “Nitro does her job every time, and then the students talk to the Officer and Nitro. It’s a nice relationship.”
“I really enjoy working with the community and am more than pleased to assist the school whenever and wherever needed. The UV school administration and students are always a pleasure to work with,” said Miller. “It is nice to be able to reassure our community the children are safe when away from home.”
According to Miller, the New Berlin Police Department K9 team members Jones, McCulskey and Miller recently assisted the Union Endicott school and Sherburne school with similar work details.