Advocates Respond to Sen. Simcha Felder’s Proposal

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New York, NY (11/28/17) – Senator Simcha Felder’s proposal to rejoin the Democratic Caucus or remain with the Republicans in Albany under the condition they commit to passing his bill to place an armed police officer at every New York City school is a poison pill that Governor Cuomo and Democrats must unequivocally reject. Felder’s insistence that armed police officers will improve school safety is not substantiated by any evidence. In fact, after decades of research, there is no evidence the presence of police officers, armed or unarmed, improve the overall safety of students or community and police relationships. However, there is ample research that increasing the presence of police officers in and around schools, regardless of their official duties, only leads to the further punishment and criminalization of Black and Brown youth.

At a cost of $400 million annually, the NYPD’s Schools Safety Division currently employ’s 5,400 personnel, while the Department of Education only employs 2,800 guidance counselors. It is unfathomable to be considering adding tens of millions of dollars to further turn school communities into prison-like environments, while our students lack access to staff who can provide social, emotional, and mental health supports necessary to thrive and develop.

Our communities need unified and progressive leadership in Albany to push back against the policies being formulated in Washington D.C. and advance policies that reflect the needs of our most marginalized communities. Brokering any kind of deal that will further criminalize and harm our most marginalized youth will not be a sign of progress, but a clear signal to our communities that progress in Albany will come at the expense of Black and Brown youth.

Estefany Valera, Urban Youth Collaborative Youth Leader said, “We are already attending schools where we have to go through a dehumanizing process where we strip down for metal detectors and scanners and police officers are present in and around all schools at arrival and dismissal. It doesn’t make any sense that our future would be bargained on adding armed police officers to our schools when it won’t make us any safer and we can’t get the guidance counselors, social workers, and mental health staff we need.”

Undersigned Organizations
Alliance for Quality Education
Coalition for Educational Justice
Children’s Defense Fund of New York
Dignity in Schools New York
Desis Rising Up and Moving
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
New Settlement Parent Action Committee
Rockaway Youth Task Force
Urban Youth Collaborative
YWCA Brooklyn