NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The New Rochelle Board of Education has announced the hiring of Vigilant Resources International to conduct an independent security assessment of the school district. VRI was founded by Howard Safir, former New York City Police Commissioner. This is precisely the sort of independent security assessment we have been calling for at Talk of the Sound for many years.
My own son was a victim of two crimes at New Rochelle High School. In his freshman year, my son's iPod was stolen in the school cafeteria. Several months later the three students suspected in the theft of the iPod assaulted by son in the hallway near the cafeteria. The security guard assigned to the hallway was not at his post as the three older, larger students repeatedly punched my son, knocking him unconscious. He suffered serious physical injury as a result of the assault and ended up in in Sound Shore Medical Center. The school district responded by suspending my son for participating in a "fight" even though video evidence clearly indicated he was attacked from behind without warning. School officials refused to call the police to the scene so my son could make out a complaint. When a police investigation resulted in the arrest of one of the students, school officials refused to cooperate or provide video tape evidence of the assault.
School security in New Rochelle is a sick joke. Talk of the Sound has reported on dozens of security breakdowns in the schools, the hiring of unqualified personnel, various sex crimes by school security guards, illegal pension waivers granted to security officers and much more. Security guards at the middle schools and the high school are routinely AWOL from their post or, if they are at their post, sitting in a chair reading a newspaper or a book, oblivious to their surroundings. Reports filed with New York State to document violence and disruptive incidents in the schools are routinely falsified to understate the number of VADIR incidents at the schools.
An independent security assessment in New Rochelle was a centerpiece of my campaign platform during my 2011 run for school board. My calls for such an assessment were repeatedly rebuffed by the school board and the administration. It is sad that it took the Newtown tragedy and parents outraged by the initial stonewalling response by the district to bring about such an assessment.
It remains to be seen whether VRI will be able to sort through the deception going on within the New Rochelle schools.
Mr. Safir would be well-advised to consider the Security Director Bruce Daniele has already begin spreading the word among the security guards that they need not worry about VRI. Daniele has been telling guards they will all be coached in advanced on what to tell the VRI Consultants before the assessment begins. Daniele has assured security guards that VRI's role will be limited to conducting interviews and that no one working in school security needs to worry about VRI or their report.
The New Rochelle Board of Education Announcement
As part of our continuing effort to evaluate and improve the safety of our schools, the Board of Education has hired Vigilant Resources International (VRI) to conduct a thorough security assessment of our buildings district-wide. VRI has a highly qualified team of professionals (bios attached below) that has extensive experience conducting school security assessments in Westchester, Fairfield County and elsewhere. We are pleased to report that they will begin the assessment process this week.
VRI will conduct a full “Threat, Risk & Vulnerability Assessment” for our district. Threats, risks and vulnerabilities to each of the district school facilities will be assessed, and a series of prioritized recommendations will be provided. The assessment process will be thorough and extensive, and will include building visits, document review, meetings, and interviews.
We thank the many members of our community who have suggested changes to safety procedures over the past several weeks. Interim changes to existing procedures have been implemented at our buildings as a direct result of your input. The Board of Education looks forward to a continued partnership with the community as we move forward in this multi-faceted process.
Proposed Team Member Biographies for New Rochelle School District
Howard Safir is Chairman and CEO of Vigilant Resources International (VRI). Mr. Safir's ability to deliver results and value to clients has been earned over a public and private sector career including successful experience as Police Commissioner of New York City, Director of Operations for the United States Marshals Service, Assistant Director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Fire Commissioner of New York City, Chairman and CEO of leading DNA forensics laboratory Bode Technology Group, consultant to the Chairman of ChoicePoint, member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Board Member of Lexis-Nexis Special Solutions, Verint Systems and Implant Sciences Corporation.
In his public sector career, Mr. Safir has successfully reduced crime and improved public safety while promoting organizational transformation, integrity and respect for human rights. These accomplishments include a 38% reduction in major crime and a 44% reduction of homicides in New York City during his four year tenure as Police Commissioner, bringing the total number of murders in New York to 667 (the lowest level in three decades); a revitalization of the United States Marshals service that included the expansion and improvement of the Federal Witness Security Program, the establishment of the Federal Asset Forfeiture Program, radical improvements to security at Federal courthouses and the high profile capture and arrest of scores of domestic and international fugitives; and some of the largest and most critical seizures of narcotics and interruption of illicit drug and weapons distribution during the early days of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In his private sector consulting career, Mr. Safir has continued to help municipalities, states, countries and private sector organizations assess and implement effective security for a wide variety of facilities including K-12 schools, universities, hospitals, power utilities, data centers, stadiums, arenas and corporate campus facilities. Mr. Safir serves on the Board of Directors of Verint, Inc., Lexis-Nexis Special Solutions, St. Barnabas University Hospital and the New York City Police Museum.
Mr. Safir is a graduate of Hofstra University and has attended courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Federal Executive Institute.
David J. Peck is the former Chief of Police of the Fairfield, Connecticut Police Department. Mr. Peck has over 30 years of specific law enforcement and first responder experience starting as a Patrol Officer graduating from the Connecticut Police Academy culminating as Chief of Police for a department of 260 sworn and non-sworn members with a $16.0 million annual budget. Mr. Peck enjoys a National and International reputation as a strategic visionary with keen abilities to build consensus for shared objectives. He is known for building highly productive teams by developing relationship management skills, building collaborative partnerships with bargaining units, superiors, peers and subordinates at all levels. While Chief of Fairfield he oversaw innovative assessment and training programs to secure and prepare Fairfield’s public schools, private schools and universities for active shooter and other security incidents.
As a strong advocate of goal setting and performance measurement to achieve continuous improvement objectives, Mr. Peck’s accomplishments are categorized by commitment to positive change, encouraging leadership, teamwork and empowerment at all levels. His unique knowledge, skills and abilities enable him to assist program partners in building capacity at all levels within law enforcement and first responder organizations with the management, leadership, training programs, and human rights focus required for them to succeed and prosper independently.
Mr. Peck holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Police Administration from the University of New Haven which is the home of The Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. Mr. Peck also received an Associate of Science degree in Law Enforcement from the Housatonic Community College where in 2010 he was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Mr. Peck is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the recipient of the Connecticut Police Academy Training Officer Award, American Red Cross International Good Samaritan Award 2009 and the Elks Club Citizen of the Year 2009.
Daniel DeLorenzi is a former Deputy Chief of Police of the Newark, NJ Police Department and has an extensive knowledge of Police, Fire and EMS operations. During his career with the Newark Police Department, Mr. DeLorenzi obtained every rank of the Police Department with increasing responsibility including the Chief of Internal Affairs and the Chief of Operations.
Both as a senior law enforcement manager, private Security Director and Security Consultant, Mr. DeLorenzi has been responsible for the protection of K-12 schools, utilities, stadiums, transportation infrastructure and the successful implementation of a wide variety of security, emergency response programs including physical security systems, evacuation planning, homeland security preparedness, fire safety, executive protection and incident reporting and analysis.
Mr. DeLorenzi holds a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and a Masters of Arts from Seton Hall University in Education. He is extensively trained in DHS/FEMA courses including the Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Response, Radiological Emergency Management, Counter Terrorism and Emergency Response to Terrorism.
Adam Safir is President of Vigilant Resources International, responsible for VRI’s overall operations including corporate development, legal, administration, accounting and finance. In this role Mr. Safir has directed the growth of VRI’s security consulting, data and law enforcement advisory practices both domestically and internationally. He has recently managed security assessment programs for school districts, large mixed-use developments and corporate campuses.
Prior to co-founding VRI, Mr. Safir was Chief Operating Officer of another security consulting firm where he successfully directed the implementation of four acquisitions and all administrative aspects of that firm’s organic growth and customer satisfaction.
Mr. Safir’s previously worked as an attorney in Sony Music's Business Affairs department where he assessed and consummated business transactions on behalf of Columbia, Epic and 550 Records and as a banker in the Mergers & Acquisitions General Transaction group of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette working in a variety of industries including telecommunications, manufacturing and consumer products.
Mr. Safir holds a JD and BA from the University of Virginia, graduating With Distinction.