The City plans on upping the number of random uses of metal detectors in public schools in response to a recent string of violence on campuses.
“We want to make sure that in the tough moments that we’ve gone through in the last year and a half that we are protecting our kids, that we are protecting our schools,” de Blasio said during a press conference Monday morning. “We know there are some schools where there has been some real safety issues lately and we need to make sure we are adding extra protection.”
Earlier this month, a 16-year-old Bronx student stabbed a 17-year-old classmate three times in a school library prompting some parents to raise concerns over the number of school safety officers stationed in schools. Last week, a 14-year-old student brought a pink handgun to school and showed it off to other students.
De Blasio did not specify which New York City public schools would see increased use in metal detector usage and instead pledged to reveal “more details” in the “coming days.”
In addition to the increased screenings, some public schools will receive school safety officers in order to create 27 “safe corridors” and neighborhood and youth coordination NYPD officers will be present at arrival and dismissal.
The full return of students to public schools this fall also meant the return of thousands of school safety agents and the return of the long-standing question over their place within school communities. According to NYPD Chief Rodney K. Harrison, who joined the mayor Monday for his morning press conference, there are about 3,200 school-safety agents at 1,400 school sites throughout the five boroughs.
Advocates have called for the removal of police officers in schools particularly in communities of color that are already over-policed. When asked on Monday whether an influx of school safety officers would increase tensions between students and NYPD officers de Blasio said that officials would work to conduct scans “in a way that is respectful and communicative.”
“I see some positive training that goes into this whole process of scanning with the school safety agents, but it’s also about relationship building. I think that’s an important component that’s being left off the table regarding the dialogue and discussion regarding having the school safety agents, making sure that the students are safe, but also making sure that there’s a conversation to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, ” said Harrison. “So, there’s professionalism there, there’s a training mechanism, and I want to believe we’re doing it correct.”
Mayoral democratic nominee and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told reporters during a visit to Sunset Park on Monday would analyze Blasio’s plan to see if it fits his goals for public schools and suggested using metal detectors to detect weapons on students was unnecessary to keep schools safe. Adams has previously hinted that if elected mayor this November he would most likely keep school safety agents in schools but would change police culture on campuses.
“We don’t need to dehumanize children, ” said Adams. “There’s new technology out there where you don’t need that visible presence to detect that firearm and we are going to use that technology to make schools safer.
Morgan C. Mullings contributed to this report.