No student has been shot in a New York City school in 13 years, a heartening statistic in an era of school shootings. There is a growing cry to rid the city’s schools of metal detectors, the very tool some observers credit with keeping them safe, reports the Los Angeles Times. Some parent groups and advocates say the scanners installed at the most troubled institutions more than two decades ago are now unneeded because of low crime rates, and they condemn them as discriminatory, since by and large they sit in schools serving minority neighborhoods. “Making students have to go through metal detectors to go to school sends a terrible message to students about where they are headed and how they are viewed,” said Donna Lieberman of the New York City Civil Liberties Union.
Other parents, and the union for school safety agents in the nation’s largest district, with 1.1 million students, warn removing the machines would leave children unsafe. The union that represents the 4,915 school safety officers, who are overseen by the police department but are not armed, say scanners placed by the New York Police Department in high-crime schools are necessary. “It’s very simple: If the scanners are taken away, then every day will be less safe for the students, faculty and school safety agents inside these schools,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. More than 300 weapons, including knives and BB guns, have been recovered by school safety agents since July, he said. Nearly 90,000 high school students are scanned every day. Some parent groups and education activists have asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to eliminate or reduce the use of metal detectors, noting almost half of black students are scanned daily, while only 14 percent of white students are.