Mayor Bill de Blasio has admitted that he did not want to transfer school safety officers from the control of the New York Police Department to the city’s Department of Education.
De Blasio revealed that he thought the city’s roughly 3,200 school safety agents “were doing well” under the authority of the NYPD during an interview on Inside City Hall’s late Monday night.
Amid pressure from citywide protests calling for police reform last year, de Blasio pledged to move 5,000 school safety agents out of the NYPD to the DOE by June 2022. On Monday night, host Errol Louis spoke with the mayor about his earlier announcement that the City planned on addressing a recent flurry of violence in some public schools by deploying more school safety agents on some campuses and asked if he was rethinking the wisdom of placing schools safety agents under the charge of the DOE.
“Clearly, I thought that they were doing well under the NYPD. The City Council really wanted to make a change. I worked with them on a plan where we all had to come together and find common ground. But we agreed to a two-year transition. That was something I was adamant about, to give us time to do it the right way. And to make sure the kids and the whole school community were safe,” said de Blasio.” In the meantime, of course, Eric Adams has been elected mayor and everything I’ve heard him say suggests he thinks that they should continue in the NYPD. So, that will obviously ultimately be his decision.”
On Monday, de Blasio announced the City plans on increasing the random use of metal detectors in some public schools in order to combat recent violence on campuses and that more school safety agents would be deployed onto some campuses during arrival and dismissal. Officials have yet to say which campuses will see the undetermined influx of safety personnel in the two and half months Mayor de Blasio has left in office.
Typically, there are close to 5,000 school safety agents that work at 1,600 school sites across the city. But earlier this school year, some school community members worried that a DOE vaccine mandate would cause a shortage of school safety officers in schools. Monday’s announcement raised questions again about a shortage of agents when NYPD Chief Rodney K. Harrison told reporters there are currently 3,200 school safety agents working at 1,400 school sites.
De Blasio spoke to the alleged shortage during Inside City Hall claiming there are actually 4,500 school safety agents the bulk of which are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We have a new class that’ll be coming in in the next few months. That’s about 250 more,” said de Blasio adding that 92% of school safety agents are at least partially vaccinated against the virus. “More are coming in every day and choosing after the fact now to get vaccinated.”
At least several hundred school safety officers remain unvaccinated and de Blasio pleaded for them to get the shot. “We want them back. We need them back. We’re using overtime and other tools to compensate,” he said.