Preventing School Shootings: NYC's Approach

NYPD, DOE plan relies on unarmed safety officers at every school, metal detectors at some, and a dedicated school unit at every precinct.


Following Friday's tragedy in which at , parents may be wondering what type of safety precautions exist in New York City public schools. 

Patch talked to Officer Tania Salters of Prospect Heights' 77th Precinct, who spent nine years in the precinct's school unit, assigned to Paul Robeson High School, who said the city's public schools have signifcant safety procedures in place:

- Every police precinct has a school unit, which patrols the precinct's schools, rounds up truant students and helps with emergencies such as an injured student. 

- Some schools with a history of violence have officers from the school unit stationed there all day, but most don't. 

- In addition to the school unit officers, the NYPD also has a school safety division, which stations an unarmed officer at every public school. These officers have "officer of the peace" status: they have handcuffs, radios connected to the NYPD, shields, and can make arrests. However, they do not have guns and they don't wear bulletproof vests. 

- Since most buildings have multiple schools, there are usually several school safety officers in every building. 

- Visitors to schools must sign in and show ID when they arrive.

- All NYPD officers have "active shooter" training. "What they tell us is if we are on patrol, we have to take action immediately. We can't wait for SWAT or Emergency Operations to come and clear the building," Salters said. "We have to come in, clear the building and if need be take out the shooter."

- In New York City, there are metal detectors in 88 public schools, according to the Department of Education. In Prospect Heights, Acorn High School has hand scanners that school safety officers can use if they suspect a student may be carrying a weapon. There are no other metal detectors in the 77th precinct. 


Do you think there are enough school safety measures in place in New York City public schools? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

WA December 19, 2012 at 11:42 PM
School Safety Officers/Agents do the best they can with the amount of equipment provided and that is all you can ask. We have to understand School Safety agents will put themselves in harms way without any protective gear or defense mechanisms unlike Police Officers.
Richard muniz December 27, 2012 at 02:51 PM
how can we pretend that the people we trust our children with can do their jobs when they are not given the proper tools to do no protective vest no mase or even baton to ward off any potential harm to the children of the city if a shooter got into the building by any other means the first person whos a threat is the safetyagent and therefore would be eliminated becasue of no proper protection and that wouold create a bigger loss of life , i think its arrogant for officers of the NYPD to say that they are prepared when they can even police some of the schools they are assigned to if they are so good at it why is crime in those surronding areas still occuring
jose December 27, 2012 at 02:58 PM
@ debra please stop catergorizing every safety agent because your a doe employee and have no idea of the police department stay in your place.
AJ December 31, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I agree an SSA need to be protected in order to help others. How? Each agent should have a bullet proof / stab vest.They should also carry batons and pepper spray.These items along with practical training,active shooter,hard /soft lockdowns will help the officers to provide safety to our public schools. Times are different we must change with them or we will fail. These new items would prove to be of benefit in regards to outsiders for the most part.
Bill lombard January 17, 2013 at 06:02 AM
Liberal anti law enforcement NYC will never allow the proper protection a school needs in 2013.


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