NYC school security personnel down 25% despite rising violence and shootings
The number of security agents in New York City schools has dropped by nearly 25% from pre-pandemic levels — all at a time when violence is flaring up in or near school buildings, according to a report released Tuesday.
As of last month, there were 3,900 active NYPD School Safety Agents, down nearly 1,200, or 24%, from February 2020, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the City’s Independent Budget Office.
The IBO report came when two teenage boys were injured three hours apart outside their high schools in Upper Manhattan on Tuesday.
In the 2022-23 school year, three students were killed and at least 20 were stabbed or shot, The Post reported last month.
“We alerted the city two years ago. Only more school safety agents can protect our city and our schools,” said Hank Scheinkopf, a spokesman for Teamster Local 237, a union representing school safety agents.
“How many more young people will be shot or stabbed to death before politicians realize what many New York mothers know: we need more school security agents.”
Scheinkopf said the force was 5,500 in 2019, but “now on a good day we’re 4,000.”
School Security Agents are civilians who do not carry weapons but work for the NYPD.
Under a 2019 agreement between the City Department of Education and the NYPD, SSAs are taking a more restrained approach, such as not interfering with the most minor misdemeanors of students, using alternate responses to arrests or summons, and applying a minimum amount of physical restraints. necessary.
But in recent years there has been a political tug-of-war over their presence in schools.
During the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, there were attempts to remove the NYPD from hiring and assigning security agents.
The progressive left argued that the police were over-controlling the schools and that the Ministry of Education should be held responsible.
However, Mayor Eric Adams decided that school security and staffing should remain in the hands of the NYPD.
However, the IBO report states that 832 occupational safety and health positions have been laid off in schools over the past year.
Scheinkopf said the city council also canceled two 250-person classes of school security agents.
“The decision to eliminate almost 300 vacant school security agent positions, bringing the total number of employees down to over 800 since February of last year, is a terrible idea, especially in light of the recent incidents in our schools and the fact that many of my schools have only one agent. Queens Councilman Robert Holden, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said.
“While the budgetary constraints are understandable, reducing the number of agents and endangering the safety of our children is not the solution,” Holden added.
Last month, the NYPD increased the number of its separate youth coordination units in schools due to an increase in shootings.
The first reduction in SSA vacant positions occurred in the Mayor’s provisional budget in February 2022, when 550 open positions were eliminated, saving $35 million to $37 million annually and reducing the FY 2023 school safety budget to $389 million.
Adams’ November 2022 budget then cut another $24 million for the remainder of the current fiscal year and another $13 million in fiscal 2024, reflecting lower recruitment and higher layoff rates than anticipated, the IBO report said.
In January, the mayor’s budget plan eliminated 282 more vacant school security agent positions to cut $10 million to $21 million a year in spending, bringing the current
annual budget up to $356 million.
The budget provides for an increase in spending on school security agents to $367 million by the end of the four-year financial plan in 2027, well below the budgeted level of $427 million in 2021 and less than the actual $395 million spent in 2019 and 2020.
The mayor’s office said the NYPD currently has 4,100 SSAs and plans to start recruiting 250 more trainees in April.
“The safety of our students will always be a top priority for this administration,” a City Hall spokesman said in a statement.
“As with any agency, we will work with them to assess their needs through the budget process once they have filled all budgeted positions, but in the meantime, we will continue to build on the productive steps we have taken so far.” and invest in a holistic vision of public safety that keeps our little ones safe.”
The NYPD did not immediately comment.
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