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Council Considers Hiring School Security

The City council discussed hiring three “community service workers.”

Community service workers who would work near city schools as crossing guards and parking enforcement, but who would not carry guns, were the topic of discussion during last week’s city council meeting. City Manager Scott Pickup informed the council he sent the description of the community service worker position to Westchester County legislators, who will need to approve the positions.

The city council is hoping to help the district enhance its security in the wake of the Newtown shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school, but not all members agree on the best way to do that. The plan for the community service workers developed during a meeting between Pickup, Mayor Doug French and Rye City School District Superintendent Frank Alvarez and school board president Laura Slack, Pickup told the council at the Feb. 13 meeting.

Pickup explained that the three new positions would help assuage absentee problems with the city’s current eight crossing guards. He noted that there has been enhanced police presence since the Newtown shooting and the but that it is not sustainable.

However, city council members Joe Sack and Julie Killian said the city might be offering too much help according to what they have heard from their own conversations with school board members.

“They (school officials) seem to feel that we are giving them more than they asked for,” Killian said based on conversations she has had with Slack and other board members she said.

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Pickup emphasized that he and Alvarez had discussed the community service workers plan just two days before. French explained that increased security outside of the school is something the district has asked for over the last ten years and emphasized the new positions would serve a different purpose than school security on campus.

“This goes back several years about increasing police presence outside of the schools, on city streets, even before hazing and Sandy Hook they have wanted an increased presence at the school…they have been talking about this for ten years now,” French said.

Killian noted that the district is performing an internal audit and suggested the council wait for those results before approving these new jobs. She also pointed out that construction of the school’s new science wing would make security even more difficult over the next two years.

“All the current parking has to go somewhere so there is going to be a dramatic impact in the neighborhoods for the next two years,” Pickup said in agreement with Killian. “We need people to help with that problem.”

There will be no parking on Parsons Street and two new crossing guards will be needed during the construction, Pickup said. The community service workers will be able to help with parking enforcement when it becomes a bigger problem, although they will not be eligible to give speeding or traffic and violation tickets, he said. Pickup added that the new workers would free up the police force from subbing in as crossing guards to do the offsite patrol around campus during pickup and drop off times.

The city council already took one step towards alleviating police from crossing guard duty when they approved a 2013 budget that included $30,000 to hire two new crossing guards, which have not yet been hired.

Pickup said he will follow up with the school board and bring the issue back to the council, which will need to vote on the community service worker positions.

Moving forward with its own security plans, the Rye school board has included $322,000 for security in its 2013-2014 proposed budget, which was presented earlier this month. They also voted to hire security officers from NJB Security Services, based in Mount Vernon in January.  They will add three security officers to the elementary schools and one new guard at the middle school and high school. The district is also conducting an internal audit of its safety and security procedures.

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Do you like the idea of community service workers? Why or why not? What do you think is most needed to improve safety at Rye City schools?  

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Jim Amico February 22, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Bob, I have argued this in the past...I have no issues with the "need" of overtime, I have an issue with the "waste"!!! If this department is managed as it should be overtime would be allocated with 100% justification. Are you actually in the belief that every dollar of that 500,000 is justified? Do you not think if managed properly that some of that $$$ can't be allocated differently....ie; SCHOOLS??? So yes, I do believe "community service workers" would be a waste of money when you consider what we pay our PD & what they are paid for, why compound the problems without fixing them first? Now, I am not saying that our cops are over paid or any thing remotely close to that. I have no issues with their salaries and I am on their side when it comes to the need for a contract, they have my support, my problem is we are not getting their full potential and I don't completely disagree with their strategy other than it effects all of us and that is not fair, but when they are up against what they presently are I can't say I would act differently! The funds budgeted was for 2 crossing guards for 2 - 1/2 shifts....15,000 TOTAL / they budgeted 30,000 and now we are calling them "community service workers" and some how this will "alleviate" something that is NOT even taking place to begin with....I say - enough with the "smoke & mirrors" , cut thru the chase and get it done already!!!
Bob Zahm February 22, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Sorry, Jim, but I didn't understand that you didn't have an issue with the OT, per se. I do remember the Council's discussion about the police budget, etc., ,and that there was a clear omission about how the OT had been used - broad brush strokes by the commissioner which in now way allowed the Council or the public to evaluate the value of the expended time. If the Council is considering re-branding the crossing guard additions to the budget as capable of providing both crosss walk safety AND school building safety, then they're fooling themselves. But that wasn't clear to me from the original post. Is that what the suggestion is? Re-reading the post, it seems like the idea is to add an additional 3 positions, not re-brand the two additional crossing guards. Was the report in the Council meeting different?
Jim Amico February 23, 2013 at 02:06 PM
That's my point, Do I think 500,000 is excessive, absolutely, I just think if we are going to spend it lets spend it where it counts, not on parades, fairs & football games. It absolutely needs to be accountable, you just can't wish away 500,000 on overtime and not justify it transparently, that I agree on. The way I understand it is, these "community service workers" will be our "additional crossing guards" and when not on crossing duties they are suppose to act as somekind of additional security...we went from budgeting funds for hiring 2 - 1/2 shift crossing guards to this mess...I mean really, can they make it any more complicated for 2 Crossing Guards? This is ridiculous!!! When our PD is off duty some of the Officers work a private security gig at Rye Country Day, yet when they are on duty and being paid by tax payers we can't have them at "OUR" schools.....I HAVE A BIG PROBLEM WITH THIS...ESPECIALLY GIVEN WHEN THEY ARE WORKING OFF DUTY AT RCDS THEY ARE WEARING RPD UNIFORMS!!! IF THEY ARE INJURED DURING THAT PRIVATE GIG WHILE IN UNIFORM WHO PAYS FOR THAT....US??? And I will repeat, yet we hardly see them at "our" schools????
John Gruber February 23, 2013 at 03:36 PM
We guard money with guns. We guard sporting events, with guns. We guard business buildings, with guns. We guard our children with...60 year old rent-a-cops? Now wouldn't it make sense to train the people who are responsible for the children to be able to protect the children's lives? You might not like the reality, but you will never stop people from illegally procuring guns
Jim Amico February 23, 2013 at 04:36 PM
I agree John, I completely ignore the gun control stuff, they will never end that, pretty much impossible in my opinion. You are dead on with your comparison, same comparison I made in reference to locking down the schools...we lock down empty schools at the end of every day but we don't lock down schools full of children...john, a customer once told me..."Jimmy, we are all born with common sense but honey, sense ain't common"

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