No metal detectors in public schools—What’s your suggestion, Mr. Mayor?

Greg Floyd | 12/14/2017, 12:47 p.m.
Three students, three families ripped apart. One student is dead, one critically wounded and the other awaits trial.
President, Teamsters Local 237

Most of our children are well aware of the dangerous world in which we live. They go to baseball games and concerts and are not stigmatized by security precautions. Rather, they accept them as part of life today. We also know that the numbers of weapons that enter public schools are not accurately reported. The DOE, NYPD and State Department of Education can all engage in a battle of whose statistics are correct, but we remain steadfast in denouncing the new criteria under the de Blasio administration for what constitutes a violation of acceptable school behavior. Many previous offenses are no longer categorized as a violation and hence, a student caught might not be a student reported. If there is no report, there is no crime and the numbers of crimes ostensibly go down. Recently, a student brought into school a flintlock gun, and luckily that school did have a metal detector and our school safety agents seized the weapon. The NYPD determined that it was only an imitation gun. The student was not charged with possessing a weapon and will not be added to the statistics of guns confiscated at public schools. This kind of misclassification adds to our doubts about the mayor’s assertion that violent crimes in schools are down—which he uses to argue for the removal of metal detectors. He had just been lucky, until that luck ran out with the fatal use of a weapon by a student.

School safety agents should not be handcuffed. They need realistic guidelines and equipment to protect students and staff. Instead of the increased use of “Warning Cards” now being issued for possession of marijuana and the broad category of “Disorderly Conduct,” this “pilot project,” which expanded to 71 high schools, does not act as a disincentive to bad behavior. Rather, this virtually meaningless “punishment” serves to incentivize misconduct. Clearly, changing the definition of a crime doesn’t make the crime go away.

I believe this tragedy could have been avoided with metal detectors, and I think that if parents and students of that Bronx school and schools throughout the city were asked, they would overwhelmingly agree. Guidance counselors, sensitivity training and smiling faces greeting students at the door are no substitute for detecting and keeping a potentially deadly weapon from getting into the school building. We agree that it is essential to address the root cause of why someone would want to bring a weapon to school, but we must first address how someone can get a weapon into that school in the first place. It’s a fact that metal detectors save lives. But if the mayor and the chancellor are more concerned with hurt feelings and political optics, I challenge them to devise another solution that is realistic for the world we live in, not the world we want. The carnage must stop before the cures are found. Civil liberties are important, but saving children’s lives must be our first priority. Just ask three grieving families.