By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Mayor Bill de Blasio is confident that keeping police in schools is the best way to protect students.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Chalkbeat reporter Alex Zimmerman asked de Blasio whether he would consider following in the footsteps of cities across the country and remove the NYPD’s 5,000 safety agents and 200 police officers from public schools. His answer was a resounding, no, despite announcing on Sunday that he would slash the NYPD’s $6 billion budget by $1 billion for fiscal year 2021.
“I’m looking at the sweep of the last not only six years but the last 10, 20 years and how much work had to be done to make our schools safer,” de Blasio said adding that schools still have a huge safety issue. “I think we have to think about the fact that the way school safety is currently configured has done a lot to reduce crime and violence in our schools.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis School Board voted unanimously on June 2 to end its $1.1 million contract with the city police department stating that the department’s actions ran “directly counter to the values” of the school district, according to Buzzfeed.
Three days later, Portland, Oregon’s school superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announced that the schools district would end the presence of school resources officers. Rochester City Council members are now proposing removing the city’s remaining seven school resource officers in this year’s budget. The Denver school board is also renewing its push to terminate its contract with city law enforcement.
De Blasio said that he supports creating a closer connection between families and officers working in city schools and improving the safety division with the neighborhood policing strategy. The mayor’s comment comes after weeks of criticism on his stance of the NYPD’s handling of the protests against police brutality and a week after hundreds of Department of Education employees calling for “sharp cuts” to the NYPD and increase public school and social service budgets.