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Vote Supports Armed Ex-Cops in City Schools

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 8, 2013 8:22am

SUNNYSIDE — A plan to put armed retired cops into city schools was approved by a Staten Island Education Council late Monday.

After a nearly three-hour meeting, all but one of CEC 31's 10 members agreed that 300 to 500 ex-officers should be put into schools following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month.

Though the council has no power to put the proposal in place, its vote will serve as a suggestion to the Department of Education.

The council also proposed adding security cameras and a buzz-in system to get into schools.

“This is really not a matter of wanting to put guns in school,” said Sam Pirozzolo, president of CEC 31, at the meeting held in the Michael J. Petrides School in Sunnyside.

“This is a matter of trying to make our school buildings safer than they are today.”

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has already said the plan was unlikely to become reality.

“It's not going to happen,” Walcott told Fox 5 News' "Good Day New York" on Monday morning.

He said the DOE already works closely with the NYPD, but that there are no plans to place any additional armed guards in city schools.

“We'd love a conversation. But armed guards, retired guards, being hired in our schools? Not going to happen," he said.

“We have safety plans in place.”

Pirozzolo said he knew the DOE was unlikely to put the plan into effect, but felt that the board should still vote on the resolution to send a message to the city to focus on school safety.

“We know that what we’re doing here is a symbolic vote,” Pirozzolo said before the vote.

“If we send this to the Department of Education, they’ve already said they’re not going to consider it. But... we feel the conversation has to happen. I feel that the time is now for this conversation.”

“I think it’s great,” said Jesenia Benitez, 35, of Mariner’s Harbor, about the vote.

“They should agree to it. It’s for the safety of the kids. What do they want, something like Newtown to happen to us here in New York?”

Other residents feared armed guards would give parents a false sense of security, and worried they would only scare students.

Denise Wright, 49, of Stapleton, worried that her sixth grader at I.S. 49 would be afraid to go to school if an armed ex-cop was patrolling it.

“I just don’t like the idea of guns,” she said. “I know my son will probably be scared — he’s scared of knives."

While she said she was in favor of the additional security measures to enter schools, she feared firearms in the school.

“I just don’t want to see any kids shot accidentally,” she said.

However, others argued that because they would hire former cops, the guards would be trained and have experience to handle most situations that could arise in schools.

“We’re talking about 20-year veterans,” said Cathleen Perez, a retired NYPD sergeant who originally suggested the plan to the CEC several years ago.