Locked doors, not metal detectors, are a concern for Queens schools in the wake of school shootings

Photo via YouTube/ Andre Christopher Rivera

In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, over the span of less than two months, the co-president of the Community Education Council for District 24 in Queens said that parents in the district have requested that the Department of Education allowed locked doors in their schools to increase safety.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj said that the schools in his community had committed the months of March and April to discussing school safety within the district. The main things that parents requested were locked doors, increased camera surveillance and a front door buzzer system, but Fedkowskyj said that the DOE has been reluctant to implement these changes.

Metal detectors were not a huge topic of concern for the 40 schools in CEC 24, and the co-president said that requests for scanners are “dependent on occurrences” in schools.

Back in March 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a meeting at the Vanderbilt YMCA to talk school safety with children in New York City public schools, including the use of metal detectors on the students. Several students, including ones from local Queens schools, said that they did not believe that metal detectors were beneficial to their safety, and instead made them feel “targeted and criminalized” as reported by Patch.

Two of the Queens high schools that were represented at the town hall were Rockaway Park High School For Environmental Sustainability and John Bowne High School in Flushing.

John Bowne High School is a Queens school that has implemented the use of metal detectors after an incident where three teenagers were charged with stabbing a fellow classmate. Days later, three other students were caught with knives while going through the metal detectors. Though the school has not implemented full-time scanners, the students do undergo “random scanning” as reported by QNS.com.

According to the nyc.gov website, the NYPD announced a safety initiative in July 2016 that required students at public middle schools and high schools to pass through metal scanning devices similar to those used to screen airline passengers. The initiative was a collaboration between the NYPD and NYCDOE as a “vital security initiative and significant deterrent to weapons and violence.”

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, it was reported that there were 88 scanning sites in the more than 1,000 public schools throughout the city. Seventy-nine of these sites are “full time” while the other nine are “part time” or “random” scanning sites. Full-time scanning takes place on a continuous, daily basis during school hours and after school and on weekends whenever the school is in use. Part-time scanning occurs on a random basis throughout the week.

Other schools undergo “unannounced scanning” where the NYPD School Safety Division brings the scanning equipment down to the selected school to use for the day. According to information from the initiative, this type of scanning is usually randomized, but sometimes it is implemented in response to the conditions or circumstances surrounding the particular school.

According to an infographic from WNYC, 20 percent of Queens students went through metal detectors in the 2013 to 2014 school year. Queens is the borough with the second-to-least amount of students going through metal detectors.

The borough with the most metal detectors is the Bronx, followed by Brooklyn, Manhattan and in last place, Staten Island. It was reported that 91,114 students in New York public schools go through metal detectors in some capacity.

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