A bill to grant yeshivos the same security patrols as public schools that was introduced twice over the past few years was finally scheduled for a hearing in the New York City Council.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield and co-sponsored by 47 of the 51 lawmakers, took on a greater urgency this week. On Shabbos, two unidentified men were captured on surveillance video taking pictures and attempting to enter two shuls on Ocean Parkway. Rumors of “Middle-Eastern-looking men casing shuls” led to a scare among residents, and police increased patrols in the neighborhood.
The incidents turned out to be innocuous — they allegedly were Christians visiting from Connecticut who wanted to check out Jewish sites out of curiosity, according to the NYPD’s counter-terrorism unit who interviewed them on Monday night.
However, they combined with recent anti-Semitic activities in Paris, Crown Heights and Copenhagen to reinforce a perception that more needs to be done in safety.
A hearing on the security bill will take place at the council’s Public Safety committee on April 14.
The bill would require the NYPD to assign a school safety agent to any public or private school that requests one. The agents would guard the entrances to schools, register all visitors, and serve as a front line for security.
While they do not carry guns, school safety agents have a direct line to the NYPD via radio. While every public school in the five boroughs currently has at least one agent assigned to it, private schools generally have no officers, or they hire their own civilian guards that stand by the door.
“All of New York’s children deserve to be safe and protected when they go to school, not just those who attend public schools,” Greenfield said.