The NYPD would provide a uniformed, but unarmed school safety officer at any non-public school upon administrators’ request under a bill introduced by Councilman David Greenfield this week.
The city already provides at least one safety officer at each of the city’s public schools. Greenfield, a Democrat who represents Borough Park and part of Flatbush in the Council, says the bill is a response to the Dec. 27, 2012 massacre of school children in Newtown, CT.
“Newtown made it really clear that all our schools, regardless of where they are have the potential of serious threat, not just from terrorists but from crazy people,” Greenfield said. He said the increased cost would be a “drop in the bucket” of the bydget of the NYPD, which trains and deploys the school safety officers.
“Most parochial schools don’t have security because they can’t afford it,” Greenfield said. “I don’t think anyone would argue with the premise that every child deserves to be protected.” Although safety officers are unarmed, they carry radios to quickly summon police officers. “I think having a uniformed officer in plain sight would deter most criminals,” Greenfield added.
The issue of government funding for non-religious costs has emerged in the mayoral race with several candidates in interviews and at debates promising to maximize aid for transportation, computers, textbooks and security.
In a Jewish Week interview, Republican Joseph Lhota, a former deputy mayor, said he supported adding parochial schools to the safety officers’ beats.
Greenfield said he wasn’t aware of the major candidates’ stance on his bill, which would have to pass the Public Safety Committee and a vote by the full Council before landing on the mayor’s desk.
“I certainly would like to compare positions on this very issue that’s important to a large segment of New Yorkers and look forward to following up,” Greenfield said.
Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., of Queens, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he would cosponsor the bill, noting that a similar bill he submitted to the Education Committee has been languising since 2010. That bill would provide not just personnel but cameras and metal detectors for private schools.
“I want to see all kids protected equally,” he told The Jewish Week. “We already pay for transportation and nurses. I happen to feel safety is even more important.”