BY NATHAN DUKE
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli joined Northeast Queens leaders and parents on Monday to call for the creation of a citywide School Safety Task Force and additional funding for security cameras at schools.
Vallone said that a legislative package of 11 bills submitted to the City Council on the matter was inspired, in part, by two incidents in March during which a man gained entrance to Whitestone’s PS 184—once during the school day and again on a weekend. Vallone said that approximately one-third of the city’s 1,700 schools do not have surveillance systems.
“In my district, two-thirds do not have surveillance systems and principals do not have the right to lock the doors,” he said. “The complete failure on the federal level to do anything and increased tragic events that have unfolded in our country has brought us together to be proactive and not reactive.”
DiNapoli said the mass shootings that have plagued schools and other public spaces across the nation inspired him to support the creation of the task force.
“We’ve all been heartbroken by the tragedies we’ve seen across this country,” DiNapoli said. “The concern of parents and students is a call we must listen to if we’re going to get any real traction on school safety and gun violence.”
Vallone’s bill would require reviews of current evacuation plans and crisis response protocols at schools, increase public notification for school emergencies, train school personnel to better handle crises, update infrastructure technology—such as security camera systems—and develop collaborative procedures for the community and city agencies.
The city Department of Education’s five-year capital plan for Fiscal Year 2019 allocated $100 million for internet protocol digital video surveillance systems (IPDVS) in schools. Vallone’s bill would allocate an additional $100 million for the systems.
“In our society right now, this is very important—it should be on the forefront,” said Christine Coniglio, the co-president of the PTA at Flushing’s PS 21. “The safety of our students is the future of the country.”
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