Addabbo joins Senate colleagues in approving package of bills to increase safety and security at New York schools

In response to frequent and devastating school shootings throughout the nation that have senselessly claimed the lives of innocent children, teachers and others, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently joined with his Senate colleagues to approve a wide-ranging package of bills to increase safety and security in New York schools.

“The massacre in Parkland, Florida was the most recent school shooting to violently rob students and beloved educators of their lives,” said Addabbo, the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee. “While it will clearly take more action in the areas of mental health, gun reform and other measures to fully address these horrendous incidents, both in schools and elsewhere, providing more safety and security in our classrooms is an important goal to pursue.”

The package of bills, which have yet to be considered by the State Assembly, would:

-- Require that all public and private schools conduct at least two “active shooter” drills each year, and enable principals to consult with NYS School Safety Improvement Teams (consisting of representatives of the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Division of State Police, and Division of Criminal Justice Services) on how to best perform these exercises (S.7845);

-- Allow schools to receive recommendations from NYS School Safety Improvement Teams to improve security in their buildings, and provide them with funding to implement the suggested changes (S.7832);

-- Expand the ability of school districts to receive state funding for security hardware and software safety technology (S.7790);

-- Raise the income restriction from $30,000 to $50,000 for retired police officers working as school resource officers (S.7791);

-- Require that a police officer be stationed at all New York City public and private schools an hour before classes begin, during daily instructional hours, and an hour after classes conclude (S.6798);

-- Extend peace officer status to retired police officers employed by school districts as school resource officers, and prohibit these officers from carrying weapons unless otherwise permitted by law (S.1144);

-- Elevate the penal law degree of violent crimes committed on school grounds to one category higher, as in increasing Assault in the Second Degree from a class D felony to the more serious Class C felony (S.2881.)

“While the horrendous and fatal shootings at movie theatres, concerts, night clubs and schools in recent years have broken all of our hearts, and have led to calls for action, the Stoneman Douglas High School killings on February 14th have especially galvanized our country around the issue of ending gun violence,” said Addabbo. “While there isn’t one simple solution to ensuring that innocent people aren’t gunned down in places where they should fully expect to feel safe, taking steps to better secure our schools is a vital piece of the puzzle.”

Having passed the Senate, the bills are now under consideration by the Assembly committees on Education, Codes and Governmental Employees.