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NYC schools to increase police presence, metal detector screenings after gun scares

The beefed-up security measures come after school safety agents recovered five guns in two days

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Police officers enter Weeksville School in Brooklyn, New York, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

By Michael Elsen-Rooney
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — New York City will increase the use of random metal detector scanning and boost police presence at public schools following the discovery of five guns at schools last week.

“We know there are some schools where there have been some real issues lately,” Mayor de Blasio said Monday. “Unannounced scanning is a tool that has been very successful.”

The beefed-up security measures come after school safety agents recovered five guns from students at schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens over a two-day stretch last week.

One of the guns was discovered at a school that has permanent metal detectors, another was found during an announced screening, a third was found during a fight between two students, and the remaining two were reported by classmates or parents.

De Blasio also said that the NYPD will deploy more officers to schools at arrival and dismissal and create 20 “safe corridors” with extra cops.

DOE officials said an additional 30 schools will have unannounced metal detector scanning. Officials didn’t immediately provide details on how many extra officers will be assigned to schools or where they will go.

Some parents, advocates and union officials ratcheted up calls to boost police presence last week in the wake of the gun seizures, while criticizing de Blasio’s plan to transfer school safety from the NYPD to the Education Department, along with proposals to eliminate the force altogether.

NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said 3,200 safety agents are currently working in schools, down from a high of roughly 5,000. The city hired a smaller incoming class this year. Roughly eight percent of school safety agents didn’t comply with the Education Department’s vaccine mandate.

De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter emphasized that the gun seizures last week show “that our systems are working.” They said the additional measures would strike a balance between keeping kids safe and not creating an overly policed school environment for kids still dealing with the emotional fallout of the pandemic.

School safety agents get training on how to conduct scanning in a “way that is respectful and communicative,” de Blasio said.

But advocates, students and parents who have pushed to reduce police presence in schools see the increased scanning and cops as a misguided and dangerous response.

Former mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, who advocated police-free schools during her campaign, said in a tweet, citing a 2015 WNYC analysis of city school metal detector data, that “for every 23,034 students scanned in the five boroughs, just one dangerous item (including, but not limited to, firearms) was found.”

“Let’s invest in problem solving that supports, not criminalizes our kids to keep them safe,” Wiley said.

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