Staten Island schools push for armed guards, panic buttons; city officials say no way

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jan 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-07 19:54:48-05

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK (PIX11) — In order to keep kids safe at schools, Community Education Council 31 on Staten Island is taking matters into its own hands.

The group’s proposal calls on city leaders to install “panic buttons” directly linked to the NYPD dispatchers, as well as “buzzer entry” systems with video in every school. They’ll vote Monday night on the proposals.

It also requests 300–500 retired city cops —  who would be armed — to act as “special patrolmen” searching for weapons.

CEC 31 President Sam Pirozzolo told PIX 11 News: “If something is going to happen at a school, they are going to call the police anyway, so if we have retired police officers on a revolving patrol, it’s better that they are there before an incident happens rather than after.”

Picking up their kids at P.S. 29 on Monday, parents said they are happy to have a conversation about tightened school security.

“I definitely like these ideas, especially patrols,” said mother Poonam Fearns.

Dominick Wortham, a father, agrees about the armed patrols, adding, “I feel safe with that with my kids… because you know what happened in Connecticut, you don’t want that to happen again.”

As a retired cop himself, Greg Fetzke,  a father, is not on board with the special patrolmen idea.

“Them carrying a firearm around my children, I don’t know how I feel about that.”

The Department of Education definitely does not like these ideas.  In a statement to PIX 11, the DOE said: “The CECs do not have any statutory duties regarding school safety and we are not considering their proposal.”

Pirozzolo said: “That’s kind of childish. The proposal hasn’t even reached their desk yet.”

Wortham agrees.

“Since the parents are concerned about it, then the Department of Education should at least listen.”

DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, shortly after the Newtown shooting, that the “NRA is wrong.  Putting an armed guard in every school building is not the answer. Our schools are safer today than they’ve been in more than a decade.”.

The DOE adds that major crime has gone down 48% since 2001.

The CEC 31 meeting starts at 7:30pm at the Petrides Educational Complex.  It is open to the public. The council only needs 6 votes to pass the proposal, then the resolution goes to the DOE, where officials there can review the recommendations, or not.