The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida was horrific and a terrible tragedy that has happened far too frequently.
Are we doing enough to secure our New York City Schools?
Community Education Council 31 has been advocating for several enhancements since December 2012.
Unfortunately, both former Mayor Bloomberg and current Mayor de Blasio refuse to implement the security measures CEC 31 proposed, even though the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo passed laws based on the plan. Several municipalities across New York State and the country have incorporated CEC 31 plan.
In addition, Community Education Council 31 has also continually advocated for City Hall and Tweed to incorporate metal detectors into school security plans. All other NYC Government buildings have metal detectors and armed security, including Tweed, the New York City Department of Education’s central office, as well as City Hall and each Borough Hall.
Community Education Council 31’s Comprehensive Safety and Security Proposal was passed in 2013 and submitted to the DOE, the state legislature and the New York City Police Department. The proposal suggested several security enhancements for NYC school buildings:
* Locking ALL doors, including the main entrance,
* Installing buzzer entries and video-capture technology on the main entrances to school buildings,
* Improving School Building Response Team training,
* Updating School Building Public Address systems (Resolution submitted in 2011) and,
* Designating retired police officers as special patrol officers to supplement school security.
In 2014, the NYS Legislature and Governor Cuomo included the CEC 31 plan into laws. They created grant funding for schools to improve safety, which included cameras and buzzer entry systems.
The laws also expanded professional development opportunities focused on safety and security, mandating more training drills for Building Response Teams.
Additionally, the laws enacted authorized School Districts in New York State to hire retired police officers as school resource officers. This measure provides an opportunity for school districts to employ trained, retired officers to supplement school security operations.
NYC DOE has adopted some of CEC 31’s proposals by agreeing and moving forward with updating the Public Address systems in schools that have defective or outdated systems.
In 2011, CEC 31 identified 35 schools with defective Public Address systems – that is approximately half of the schools in District 31. During this year’s survey, CEC 31 submitted requests for the seven remaining schools that need Public Address system upgrades. The DOE has also increased Building Response Team training.
Although we are grateful for the DOE’s partnering with us to get every Public Address system working properly and increasing Emergency Response Training, we are disappointed that the Mayor and Chancellor have been reluctant to lock ALL doors and install buzzer entry systems with photo capture camera technology at the main entrance of every school.
The DOE, to this point, has also turned away from the opportunity to utilize the resources of a select number of retired police officers that could add a valuable layer to school security. This can be a proactive measure to deter and minimize a potential threat like an active shooter.
The DOE should create a pilot program employing retired police officers, who will perform duties associated with protecting the students and staff from a possible threat from a person with a weapon. The retired officers would NOT be part of general student discipline procedures. These special patrol officers would only be utilized to monitor access to school buildings and deter violent threats. The city can install signs on school buildings that advise the presence of an armed special patrol officer.
I believe the New York City Department of Education needs to be proactive and implement these safety measures to help secure all NYC Schools.
You can read more about Community Education Council 31’s Comprehensive School Safety & Security Plan here.
By Community Education Council 31 President Michael Reilly.