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October 29, 2021

NEW YORK - Late yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed an appeal in NYCLU v. NYPD, its case against the New York City Police Department to force the disclosure of information about the NYPD’s presence in schools and the impact of school policing on students through the use of metal detectors.

Since 2016, the NYPD has been required by law to produce data about its metal detector program, including the location of scanners, requests by principals to install or remove them, data on school safety agent deployment, and items confiscated through scanning. The department has never fully complied with this requirement. The NYCLU originally filed a FOIL request to City Council for this information in March 2019, then sent a subsequent FOIL to the NYPD in January 2020. In August 2020 the NYCLU filed an Article 78 petition to seek a judgement ordering the NYPD to comply with the FOIL request.

In April 2021 the Court issued a ruling in the case in favor of the NYPD, allowing them to continue withholding documents. Today’s filing challenges that ruling and seeks the production of information including a list of schools with permanent metal detectors, a list of schools subjected to random scanning, and a list of contraband seized at metal detectors aggregated at the city level.

“New York City continues to roll out metal detectors as a reactionary response, without doing anything to address the fundamental challenges all students are experiencing,” said Johanna Miller, director of the Education Policy Center at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Time and time again, the mayor chooses a knee-jerk response of criminalizing children over long-term school climate improvements, and the services kids need. Students deserve supportive resources and staff to support them, particularly after the trauma and hardship of the pandemic and remote learning.”

This week Mayor de Blasio announced the expansion of the school metal detector program in New York City schools. Many published studies have failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of metal detector screening in schools, while quantifying the lasting damage they have on kids’ wellbeing.

“The NYPD relies on secrecy and evading transparency requirements to continue this surveillance project,” said Miller. “They tell us this tactic works and that it doesn’t hurt kids, but they have never actually demonstrated that fact to the public. We hope the Court will see that this NYPD monopoly on information denies us the ability to make the best school safety choices.”

Tens of thousands of city children experience school search and surveillance every day, and are required to pass through metal detectors, bag-searches, and pat-downs to get to class.

You can find materials on the case here: