Brian Casey has been a youth monitor at the Family Recreation Center in the Village of Colonie since 2004. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a retired Colonie police officer of 31 years. He was an original School Resource Officer at Colonie High School and D.A.R.E. Officer. He has been a Boy Scout leader for over 25 years. He has served on the Colonie Youth Center Board and currently serves on the Board of Education for the South Colonie Central School District. Other than his role as youth monitor, he handles all the bookings for the rentals of village facilities, coordinates with the Colonie High School Alternate Education Program, and reviews bands for the “Tuesday Nights in the Park” Summer Program and is a member of the Amphitheater committee.
Q: You spent a good portion of your career working with high school age students. What is the most important thing you try to convey to a population who may not want any advice from an adult?
A: I would convey high school students have a lot of questions that they cannot get answers to from their peers or they get the wrong answers. Sometimes adults have had a version of the same experiences and can help with an answer. It is certainly an advantage to have a person that they can openly talk with and interact with on a regular basis. I know that many students came to me as the SRO at Colonie High and asked many questions that they could not get answers from others. I firmly believe that having a sworn police officer in schools helps with the climate and civility of kids, teachers, and administration. When my partner and I were at CCHS we taught a participation in government class on a number of social and police topics, great way to interact with kids and answer their concerns. That was one of the highlights of being in the schools, working with tomorrow’s leaders.
Q: You always hear about “kids today” and how different they are from say 30 years ago. Are they different today? If so, how? If not, how are they the same?
A: Kids are different in their own way. Some sit at home and watch TV, play games and do not see the outdoors like we did as kids. By that, I mean get outside take a bike ride, go on a hike, sit under a tree and read a book. Get some Vitamin D. Kids have some of the same problems as those of us 30 years ago, but they have no one or no way to express their hurt or get questions answered or might be afraid to ask. That’s why it is so important for adults to form good relationships and be accessible.
Q: The Village of Colonie is the epitome of “It Takes a Village.” What is the secret to that?
In the Village of Colonie, we listen and help those who are in need. Example: when a village resident’s grandson was very sick the village residents rallied around the family and helped with fund raisers, and comfort. When the former mayor’s house sustained major damage from a fire again the village residents help rebuild his home, When a another village resident’s home almost burned to the ground again the “It takes a Village” held true with donations and the rebuilding of their home. The secret is The Village of Colonie is truly a great place to live and raise a family. Don’t believe me try and buy a home in the Village of Colonie they don’t last on the market a long time.
Q: Having spent 31 years as a police officer, what do you think of the BLM movement and calls to defund police?
A: When my three brothers and I were growing up our Irish grandmother always said everybody is the same inside, but others wear a different costume on the outside. I have no problem with people protesting for their cause or what they believe in. But not with the damaging and looting of property. If folks feel they have been wronged or are not treated as “all men are created equal” then get together and have a meaningful conversation. I have watched the call to defund the police by taking funds from the police budget and moving said funds to social programs. It might help, but what about families getting involved in working with the social programs not just funding them. I believe some parents need to act on what they claim to be their best intentions and see what they can do to help. Advocacy grows by doing. Get involved in the child’s school activities, P.A.L., P.T.A., Scouts. Not sit on the side lines and bash those programs but getting involved might help. Talk to people that are in the trenches building these programs. Find out what works, seek ways to change through your actions.
Q: As a member of the Board of Education, what are the biggest challenges facing education today and how can the BOE overcome those challenges?
A: School budgets challenges. Unfunded mandates. Millions are used to fund requirements set down by the state Education Department with no reimbursement. When you cannot have new and interesting programs of learning for students, they get bored with the same old classes and look to be challenged. I know the English, math, history and science are required. We need to inspire, challenge, and make school interesting so kids want to come and learn. We cannot keep going to the tax payers and asking for more. Those in the higher places need to ask us, the Boards of Education, what can we do to help?
If you know someone who you would like to see featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at 518-878-1000 or by email at [email protected]