To City council members/Politicians responsible for School Safety switch to DOE,
My name is Wilson Nin Jr, I am a School Safety Sergeant and have been in this line of service for the past 15 years. I am a father of three who has children currently attending public schools and a husband to a NYC DOE teacher who’s been teaching for seven years. First, I would like to say that I myself know how important it is to have safety in school buildings as well as the surrounding communities. I’d like to start off by informing you all of what the roles are of School Safety agents. School Safety Agents are the first to encounter anyone or anything entering the building and making sure to keep students, staff and whoever else may be in the building safe. School Safety patrols inside the schools, and outside of the schools. Their responsibilities include performing daily scanning,confiscating weapons, working with individual students to deescalate situations and counsel them, offer programs to students (ex. explorer program), they conduct food drives, toy drives, coat drives, and put money together for senior students who do not have the funds to afford a dress or suit for prom. When irate parents force entrance into the building, School Safety Agents are there to prevent any criminal activity. And yes! School Safety Agents do make arrests when a crime is committed but that is not our first option which is what training has taught us.
Second, the school system is dealing with a lot of gang violence, robbery, drugs, vandalism, weapons, teacher/principal threats, sexual harassment, and the list goes on. Although guidance counsels and principals play a huge role in the lives of the students, it is school safety that is there to protect and serve the community. When it comes to specific protocols as far as theSchools Safety, I am sure that principals and school staff are not properly trained or certified to perform the necessary duties that a School Safety Agent can. School Safety Agents are trained and certified by the police academy for four months in order to be able to properly handle specific situations. Last time I checked, principals and teachers always contact school safety agents when a situation arises because they feel secure with the School Safety Agents around.
Now let’s get into the talk about racial profiling that was mentioned by the city council. School Safety Agents are 90% Black and Latino. The majority come from the communities in which they work and have great relationships with the students. They can relate to what the students might be going through and can reason with them. Students trust school safety agents and feel protected when coming to school. I have specifically had students come to school in fear of their lives because they were being followed, bullied in the school or sexually harassed. They felt protected because they knew that having a Police Officer in the school meant that they had an authority figure in the school. It’s called safety! Nobody mentions that school doors are open and anyone can just run in. I’ve had criminals run into the school hiding from a shooter, or people in the community running into the building needing protection from danger. When criminals see a NYPD badge they either run in fear or are arrested for trespassing.
Here are some scenarios where you might see why it is important for School Safety to stay under NYPD. First, the Department of Education should not have complete control of everything that happens in the school building. Many things are already swept under the rug and how can things actually be dealt with if this is going to continue and happen even more? I have dealt with DOE staff sexually harassing students, bullying students, and students doing the same. Some schools choose not to report these things so they don’t get flagged and receive bad ratings. I personally made reports and arrests have happened as a result of these actions. Nobody is perfect but how can these things be dealt with if they are swept under the rug by the same people who you are trying to put School Safety under? It will never work. As a parent, I would not be comfortable knowing that the DOE can allow these things to happen which is why a balance in the schools and life in general is necessary.
In the end, everyone’s role in the schools is very important. There is no need to change anything because you want to defund the police or because of the BLM movement. I wish you would take one day in my school building and see what’s happening. I don’t think you would believe what school safety encounters and is able to accomplish and deescalate without even having weapons. If I were to get into specific situations, this switch to the DOE would not even be a question. Honestly, what the switch seems like to me is a cover-up. It seems that using the BLM movement is a way to shift School Safety to where it looks like you’re defunding the police but instead you are moving us to where the funding is “better” which is in the DOE. Safety needs to be a priority here, not politics! If BLM would not have happened and all the talk about defunding the police did not happen, would we be here talking about switching School Safety? I personally don’t think so..