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NYCLU to Sen. Felder: No armed police in public schools

STEPHON JOHNSON | 12/7/2017, 12:58 p.m.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has called out a state senator for suggesting armed police be put in schools.
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The New York Civil Liberties Union has called out a state senator for suggesting armed police be put in schools.

For the second time in a month, New York State Sen. Simcha Felder suggested, in the wake of a school shooting in California, that armed police be placed in city schools.

“An armed guard outside would have neutralized this insane attacker the moment he arrived,” said Felder, a Democrat who conferences with Republicans in the Senate, in a statement. “It’s crucial that the students were in lockdown, but that is not the solution.”

Felder noted that New York City public schools are protected by unarmed resource officers, but suggests that times have changed.

“When a situation calls for immediate action, all they can do is call the police,” said Felder. “That makes every school a soft target and every student a potential victim. My proposed legislation places a well-trained, armed NYPD officer in front of every school.”

Felder said he would join Democrats in the Senate if they supported the move.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said Felder’s suggestions are the wrong way to respond to a tragedy.

“Arming school police officers is not the way to keep our children safe and supported in school,” said Lieberman in a statement. “Senator Felder’s call for armed police in schools is a huge step in the wrong direction. It is disappointing that the senator would use our children’s safety and education as a political football.”

Felder first called for armed police in public schools after the recent terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan when Sayfullo Saipov used a truck to strike bikers and pedestrians on the Hudson River Greenway. Felder then jumped out of the vehicle with a paintball gun and a pellet gun before being shot by police. The incident happened near a middle school, the Borough of Manhattan Community College and a prestigious high school.

“This week’s deadly truck attack in front of Stuyvesant High School and the Hudson River Middle School proved once and for all that our students and schools are vulnerable to terror,” said Felder a month ago. “There is only one solution: Having an armed NYPD officer stationed in front of every city school.”

Earlier this year, Felder introduced Senate Bill 6798 that would require a police officer to be present during instructional hours at all New York City schools. Despite Felder driving the point home multiple times, Lieberman said she isn’t buying it.

“Stationing gun-toting police in schools is a recipe for disaster—with potentially deadly results,” stated Lieberman. “The Felder proposal invites the use of deadly force against students and promotes a hostile school climate instead of age-appropriate educational interventions. We need more accountability mechanisms to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, not more uses of force from police in schools.”