NEW YORK (PIX11) — Several dozen New York City students on Wednesday testified before the City Council’s Education Commission, sharing their experiences with school safety agents.
The students are part of the Urban Youth Collaborative, a group advocating for police-free schools.
“Seeing police in our school makes us feel less – not more – safe,” said high school student Anari Coleman. “We need more counselors, not cops.”
Students want to see money in the school budget allocated in different ways.
“Secure a hiring freeze on the school cops, cut funding for the 600 vacant cop positions in the mayor’s budget and invest the money from those disinvestments into restorative justice, mental health and our futures,” said Coleman.
Several students testified that school feels more like a prison than a place to learn, with safety agents disproportionately targeting Black and brown students.
“Every day I go to school with a dozen school cops and three metal detector checkpoints, where I often get stopped and searched, resulting in me being late to class,” said student Aylin Frias.
Their demands, however, may be a hard sell. On Wednesday morning, a student at Inwood Academy was stabbed twice in the leg. Police are also investigating a trio of shootings Tuesday near schools on the Upper West Side and Harlem.
Mayor Eric Adams’ proposed 2024 budget allocates funding for more than 4,400 school safety agents. It’s an increase from the 3,900 currently employed, but it’s still nearly 1,000 fewer than there were three years ago.
Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesperson for Local 237, the union representing school safety agents, said cutting agents has a straightforward result.
“You like crime?” Said Sheinkopf. “You like visiting kids in hospitals? You like seeing people stabbed and shot? That’s what you’ve got.”