After the deadly Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, many states, cities and school districts across the country discussed allowing trained teachers to be armed or assigning armed guards and police officers to schools to help bolster school security.
New York City, however, has done the exact opposite. It has removed armed officers from public schools in the city, to be replaced by unarmed school safety agents and the occasional visit from armed officers making routine patrols through their communities.
“It’s ridiculous,” stated Linda Lovett, co-president of the PTA at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, according to the New York Post. “All over the country they are telling you ‘arm the teachers, get an officer in your school.’ New York City had a designated officer and they are actually cutting the program … they are making us less secure.”
“You are talking about 5,000 people in a one-block radius, and you’re telling me you can’t designate one officer?” she added.
The officer who was recently removed from Francis Lewis, Sgt. Raul Espinet, had been a fixture at the school for more than a dozen years and was beloved by both staff and students. He not only provided a deterrent and security for the premises with his constant presence, but also served as a sort of counselor for troubled teens and helped keep them out of trouble.
“My colleagues think it’s outrageous — and really stupid,” stated teacher Arthur Goldstein. “We’re not enthusiastic about arming teachers, but we liked having a cop around.”
Lovett, who has three children enrolled in the public school system, recently appeared on “Fox & Friends” alongside Francis Lewis student Shir Levy, who called the removal of the armed officer from her school “absolutely ludicrous” given the timing to the recent massacre in Florida.
Levy added that she felt the move was “compromising our safety” as there will be nobody on the premises armed and prepared to immediately confront a threat.
Lovett reiterated that she found the move “ridiculous” and said her message to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD is that she and other parents simply want their school’s armed officer returned to them, nothing more and nothing less. She and other concerned parents have launched a petition drive demanding the same.
However, a separate report from the New York Post revealed that de Blasio stated in a 2017 letter to state lawmakers who had requested armed officers at every school in the city that doing so would be cost prohibitive, and cited an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.
“Adding an armed police officer in each school building would place an enormous fiscal burden on the City’s budget,” the mayor wrote last June. “Assuming that an armed officer were deployed in the same manner as school safety agents, in approximately 1,400 schools, the cost of this proposal is estimated to be $1.2 billion annually.”
But that excuse didn’t sit well with some state senators, namely Simcha Felder of Brooklyn and Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who had been requesting armed guards be deployed to public and non-public schools, and they stated as much in a rebuttal letter to de Blasio.
“What we fundamentally disagree on is the value of protecting our children,” the state senators wrote. “An armed New York City police officer at the entrance of public and non-public school buildings is the best and most efficient way to deter an attack, and, if need be, neutralize an armed attacker.”
“Yet, you reject our recommendation not on the merits, but by hiding behind a price tag!” they continued, and pointed to “shamelessly wasted” public funds in the city’s $85 billion budget before they added, “How is it that when it comes to truly protecting the lives of our children, there isn’t an extra dollar to spend? This is unacceptable.”
This decision by Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD to remove armed police officers from the schools to which they had long been assigned — to be replaced by unarmed “safety agents” and occasional patrols — is indeed unacceptable, ludicrous and outrageous.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.