May 7, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A number of local leaders are holding a rally in Kew Gardens Saturday calling on the city not to transfer the control of school safety officers from the NYPD to the Dept. of Education.
The rally, called “Keep Safety Agents in Schools,” will take place outside Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd., on May 8 at 10:30 a.m.
The event is being organized by Donghui Zang — a candidate for city council District 29 — and the New York School Safety Coalition, which is comprised of parents and community leaders who support the presence of NYPD School Safety Agents (SSAs) in schools.
The New York chapter of the non-profit Chinese American Citizens Alliance is also listed as an organizer. Both groups have held similar rallies in Manhattan and the Bronx over the last few weeks.
Zang said that the city’s 5,000 SSAs keep public schools safe and they should be kept as a division of the NYPD.
The mayor said last year that the DOE would take control of the safety agents by June 2022. The DOE had run the Division of School Safety until the NYPD took it over in 1998 in an effort to overhaul the system.
However, Zang said that the move will backfire by making schools more vulnerable and putting students in harm’s way.
“It makes no sense as the agents are there to stop people who want to come on to campus and do bad things,” Zang said. “The agents are there to protect students and are part of the big school family like someone’s aunt or uncle.”
Zang said the rally is being held to remind people of the important work the NYPD does at schools to bolster security. For example, agents confiscate thousands of knives as well as other weapons every year, he argues, citing a New York Post study on NYPD data.
The DOE, Zang said, is not capable of properly overseeing school security whereas the NYPD has a proven track record of doing so.
“The DOE is responsible for education and it doesn’t do a good job of it. The DOE cannot be trusted to be in charge of the school security system,” Zang said.
Zang said that the organizers of the rally support the NYPD. He said that the important work SSA agents are doing in schools is being drowned out by those who are critical of law enforcement and are part of the “defund the police” movement.
He added that SSAs are not like regular police since they are unarmed.
The rally on Saturday, Zang said, comes weeks before local primary elections where many candidates have backed the transfer of school security from the NYPD to the DOE.
Zang, who is running for city council to represent Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill, said that it is imperative that the next city council and new mayor keep the NYPD in schools.
“We need common-sense candidates to be elected who will demand that the NYPD remains in our schools.”