To the Editor:
As a retired police officer who was born in Pittsfield and worked for 25 years on the Police Department, the last seven as a school resource officer in middle school, I feel compelled to respond to the letter to the editor from Joseph DiNicola ("Wrong Approach to Crime in Pittsfield," July 8).
I want to commend Mayor Tyer for additionally funding the Police Department, which is woefully understaffed considering the changes that have occurred in Pittsfield. Strain has been felt both fiscally (tax rates) and in the areas of city services like police, fire and public works.
Mr. DiNicola stated that the answer to reducing crime is education. For seven years as a school resource officer, I witnessed firsthand the efforts of teachers and administrators to educate and motivate students who had difficulty learning in a structured environment. If a student could not progress in class, the student was tutored at additional expense in the library. If a student could not progress in the school library, tutoring, at additional expense, was arranged off campus. It was not unusual for these students to ignore and verbally abuse the tutors assigned to them or not to show up for off-campus tutoring. Tutors have resigned because of the verbal abuse from students.
When I met with the parents of the individuals, if they showed for school meetings, it was readily apparent why their children had issues. When the parents did show their position was that the school was responsible for the child's difficulties. The school did not address the issues of their child. These three individuals went on to become gang members who were involved in shootings. One of those shootings resulted in the death of another youth.
So is education the answer? From what I have witnessed, the School Department, at additional taxpayer expense does everything in its power to insure that every child receives an education. From what I have seen, it all starts at home. It is the school's job to educate. It is the parent's job to teach character, honesty, responsibility, and integrity. The parents should start those lessons prior to their children attending school.
A person has to attend class and take a test to operate a motor vehicle. Perhaps the same should be required to become a parent.