Every New York City yeshivah would become eligible for at least one policeman for security if a bill introduced to the city council passes, taking the battle for more city funding for yeshivos to a new frontier.
Councilman David Greenfield’s proposed legislation last Wednesday would require the New York Police Department to expand its School Safety Agent program currently in public schools to all institutions at the administration’s request.
“Every child deserves to attend school in a secure environment,
regardless of whether they attend a public or private school,” the Brooklyn Democrat said in a statement. “Quite frankly, we are inviting tragedy by not having security officers in some schools.”
While previous struggles for equal funding for yeshivos have focused on books, transportation and nurses, Greenfield’s bill takes on the new sphere of stationing cops in yeshivos.
While every public school in the five boroughs currently has at least one School Safety Agent assigned to it, private schools generally have no safety officers or hire their own civilian guards that stand by the door.
“There’s nothing like a cop with a badge and a radio, with access to real time information,” Greenfield told Hamodia.
He added that his proposal would be voluntary, and that any police officer on school premises would be unarmed but would have the authority to make arrests. The number of officers would be based on school size.
“Some yeshivos may be eligible for up to 15 school safety officers,” Greenfield said. “But every yeshivah, no matter how small, would be entitled to at least one officer.”
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the public safety committee who will hold hearings on the bill, said he was signing on as a co-sponsor.
“I intend to get this bill moving forward,” Vallone told Hamodia. He said that they will be submitting the bill for a cost analysis but expects the Bloomberg administration to oppose it no matter.
Vallone introduced a similar bill several years ago, in the education committee, but no hearings were held due to opposition by Speaker Christine Quinn. He is more confident this time that Greenfield’s sponsorship will bring the speaker on board.
Greenfield said that he discussed the issue with the NYPD and he doesn’t “see why they would oppose it.” But he said that the legislation will be taken up by the council no matter what.
Images of club wielding cops intervening in schoolyard spats will not happen, Greenfield assured.
“This will be done cooperating with the yeshivos,” he said. “This is all voluntary.”
The School Safety Division is part of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Unit and employs over 5,000 School Safety Agents and 169 uniformed police officers that are assigned to schools based on need as determined by the NYPD. They monitor school entrances and hallways using scanners, cameras and metal detectors.