School Safety: NYC Public School Doors to be Locked, Security Equipment Installed
New security features are coming to New York City public schools in an effort to combat rising incidents of gun violence and other school safety concerns.
Last Thursday, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), voted to award Long Island based tech company Symbrant Technologies a 1-year, $43 million contract to equip schools with door-locking mechanisms and video surveillance systems. The features will be implemented in more than 1,000 city schools which currently leave front doors unlocked during the day, guarded by unarmed NYPD security agents.
With the new school safety equipment, front doors will be locked during school hours, requiring visitors to be buzzed in. Security cameras and intercoms will allow school officials to see visitors before admitting entrance into the building.
This move comes in response to the staggering rise in school shootings and other incidents of gun violence in the United States over the last decade, leading parents to be highly concerned about school safety and their children.
While the contract was approved by the PEP, not all of its 15 voting members were enthusiastically in favor of it, citing a lack of data on the effectiveness of the system as well as the high price tag, among other concerns. If the contract is extended beyond the first year, it could cost taxpayers an estimated $78 million, according to panelists.
“I really think we need more information,” said panelist Jessamyn Lee . “We’re talking about nearly $80 million in public funds between DOE and mayoral allocations here and I think we need to be very serious with our money.”
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Another panelist noted that some dangerous situations happen outside of the school building and worried that locked doors would prevent students outside from seeking shelter.
Other panelists however expressed concern with delaying approval of the funds, worrying that students would be left unprotected without quick implementation of the security systems.
“In this time, where we voted no and something happened in the interim? I’m not going to be able to sleep because we as a PEP board didn’t do everything we can,” stated panelist Anthony Giordano. “The money is there now. The time is now.”
Despite disagreement among panel members, the school safety funding was approved. It is not clear when the new equipment will debut in schools.