NEW YORK — Gun possession at New York City schools this year has become a growing problem, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday there will be an increase in unannounced security scannings at buildings as a deterent.
“We need to make sure we’re adding extra protection to make sure there’s never violence, never any incident where a child is harmed,” the mayor said.
There will be unannounced scanning at several schools where it would be particularly helpful, according to the mayor, and the city will work with neighborhood coordination officers and youth community officers to be at schools at arrival and dismissal times.
“The safety of the whole community comes first,” de Blasio said.
Twenty safe corridors will also be added where there will be extra police presence to support the kids.
The mayor acknowledged children have been through a lot, which is why the city hired 500 more social workers to assist with social and emotional screenings.
Additional information will be announced in the coming days, the mayor added.
However, Mona Davids, the head of the New York City Parents Union and a member of the School Safety Coalition, said more permanent security features need to be installed now.
“At the very least, starting today, all of those schools where weapons were found last week should have permanent scanners and should have permanent metal detectors but what the mayor and them are not admitting is the fact that they do not have enough scanners and enough metal detectors,” Davids said.
In less than one week, six guns were recovered at five high schools and one middle school across the city, according to the NYPD. Of the firearms recovered, three were loaded.
Community leaders warned parents that children are in danger, calling on the city to take immediate action.
When asked whether or not there will be enough staff available to accommodate the increase in security scanning, the mayor said he feels confident since 92% of school safety agents have been vaccinated. The number of those vaccinated will allow the city to shift around agents or implement overtime, if needed.
NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said he is content with the number of safety agents available.
There are about 3,200 agents at the 1,400 sites across the city, according to Harrison. There are a backup of youth coordination officers available to fill in at schools with low numbers of school safety agents.
However, before the pandemic, there were 5,000 school safety agents.
The mayor also said he is not worried the screenings will exacerbate the relationship between students and police.
“It’s about how we do it,” the mayor said, adding that scanning can be done in a way that is respectful and communicative.