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NYCLU Statement on Proposed Scaling-Up of School Safety Division

NEW YORK CITY – This week, Politico reported that New York City Department of Education Chancellor David Banks promised to increase the number of school safety agents in public schools by roughly 1,500 officers, expanding the force from 3,500 to 5,000. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Director of the Education Policy Center Johanna Miller:

“When the NYPD was installed in classrooms and hallways in 1998, the officer headcount was 3,500 and the City promised to never increase it. But during Mayor Bloomberg’s expansion of racist Broken Windows policing, the schools force ballooned to more than 5,200 officers. At those numbers, our school police force is larger than the entire police departments of all but a handful of American cities.

“Today, student enrollment in NYC schools is dropping dramatically. Using precious education dollars to hire 1,500 police officers is not a return to normal, it is an unprecedented and wasteful overexposure of young New Yorkers to police abuse.

“Police in NYC schools have had a demonstrated racist impact. In 2019, Black and Latinx students made up 66 percent of student enrollment but were involved in nearly 89 percent of police interventions in schools. Meanwhile, white students, who made up 15 percent of the school population accounted for only five percent of arrests. Students who are handcuffed while experiencing emotional distress are overwhelmingly Black.  For these students, having the NYPD in schools has not made them safer.

“This proposed scaling-up comes at a time when students who have faced two years of isolation, grief, and hardship desperately need support from counselors, teachers, and staff, not policing, arrests, and criminalization in their schools. Chancellor Banks and the Adams administration must reverse this proposal and commit to solutions that respond to students’ needs, rather than the police department’s insistence on padding its ranks.”

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