By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Catholic schools, yeshivas and other religious schools would be entitled to have school safety agents if a bill proposed by a Brooklyn councilmember becomes law.
Councilmember David Greenfield was joined by 20 of his council colleagues at a rally at City Hall on Wednesday to demonstrate support for a bill he is sponsoring that would require the New York Police Department to put a school safety officer in any school that requests one, even private and religious schools.
Public Advocate Letitia James was also on hand at the rally to show her support for the proposed legislation.
Greenfield’s bill would require the NYPD to assign a school safety agent to any school, public or private, that requests one. The officers are unarmed but they are equipped with police radios that give them a direct link to the NYPD.
Currently, only public schools have NYPD school safety agents.
The bill would cost the city $50 million and would help to protect 230,000 kids, according to Greenfield, who said students in private schools save the city $5 billion a year in education costs.
“We’re here for a very simple reason: we want to make sure that every single student of New York City that goes to school, whether they go to public school or religious school, is safe. That’s why we’re here," said Greenfield (D-Borough park-Midwood-Bensonhurst).
“It’s our responsibility to keep all school children safe, whether they attend a public school or a private school, they all deserve the chance to learn in a safe environment. We live in uncertain times, with school violence on the rise nationwide, this measure will give parents and students peace of mind that they are safe at school,” said Councilmember Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), who supports the bill.
The bill has been endorsed by Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Eric Adams and several organizations, including the Catholic Community Relations Council, the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Archdiocese of New York, the Muslim Community Network, the Islamic Schools Association of New York and the NYS Association of Independent Schools, according to Greenfield’s office.
Jake Adler, director of policy at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Advocacy Center, said the bill “is simply a matter of fairness” and called for its quick passage.
“There are thousands of children attending Islamic Schools in New York City and they deserve to be in a safe school environment,” said Rafeek Mohamed, president of the Islamic Schools Association of New York.
“All of New York City’s school children deserve protection. School safety agents are in public schools; they must be placed in nonpublic schools as well,” said Joseph Rosenberg, director of Catholic Community Relations Council.
The bill was presented to the council’s Public Safety Committee last month. A vote by the full council has not yet been scheduled.