NYPD removed one of the last armed officers from city schools, even as armed protection of students takes center stage nationwide.
Sgt. Raul Espinet, one of the last armed NYPD officers, was removed from his post at Francis Lewis High School around the same time that the February 14 Florida school shooting occurred.
The New York Post reports that armed officers in schools are being jettisoned in light of “Mayor de Blasio’s new community policing units.” Such units “will visit schools while patrolling the neighborhood” but full-time, designated school assignments are over.
Francis Lewis PTA co-president Linda Lovett railed against the decision to remove full time NYPD officers and quickly gathered over 1,000 signatures on a petition in support of bringing an officer back. Lovet said,
“It’s ridiculous. All over the country they are telling you ‘arm the teachers, get an officer in your school.’ New York City had a designated officer and they are actually cutting the program . . . they are making us less secure.”
Lovet added, “You are talking about 5,000 people in a one-block radius, and you’re telling me you can’t designate one officer?”
Students, parents and teachers say the school is generally safe and that fights are rare, but the Parkland shooting and one teenager’s recent online threat against Francis Lewis HS have put them on high alert.
“There are school shootings everywhere, and they took the one armed officer away from a school with 4,000 kids in it,” said sophomore Josephine Li. “Who is there to protect [us]?”
Teachers spoke of what a comfort Espinet brought to students and faculty alike, that he checked to make sure doors were locked, built rapport with students–who then confided in him, and even “took troubled teens under his wing.”
Moreover, his presence was a “deterrent” to attack.
Staten Island City Councilmen Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo, together with Borough President James Oddo, have been pressing Blasio to reverse course so full-time officers can be reassigned to NYC’s 1,700 schools. But Blasio believes such a move “would cost too much.”
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 13th, 2018