Police Commissioner Wants to Provide School Security in New Rochelle

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Police Commissioner Wants to Provide School Security in New Rochelle

January 21, 2013 - 17:10

AlumnispotlightNEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle Police Commissioner has a solution to the problematic security situation in New Rochelle schools: give him control over school security.

"The Board of Education should give the school security budget to the police department," said Police Commissioner Patrick J. Carroll in an exclusive interview with Talk of the Sound.

Carroll made the suggestion during an interview to discuss the department's role in school lockdown/lockout procedures and manpower issues that surfaced during a New Year's Day incident in which police surrounded an apartment building on Main Street after reports of a possible hostage situation.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, school security has become a major issue throughout the United States, including New Rochelle.

Carroll said there would be a number of benefits to the police managing school security. Police would be on scene immediately in the event of an incident. The presence of sworn police officer would have a strong deterrent effect. Civilian security guards would be on the police department radio system giving them instant access to the police dispatcher. Carroll said the police department would be responsible for training and certification of all civilian security guards in the schools.

Carroll noted that the New York City Police Department already provides security for New York City schools.

On New Year's Day every available officer in New Rochelle responded to 759 Main Street and mutual aid was called in from police departments in Scarsdale, Eastchester and the Town of Mamaroneck.

A report of a domestic dispute involving a man with a rifle came in at 6:53 p.m.

Steven Blanchard surrendered to police at 9:14 a.m.

In the time in between, New Rochelle police received 11 calls including 2 burglaries, 2 disputes (physical or verbal altercations), 2 commercial alarms, 2 personal welfare calls and 3 EMS calls.

Response times were slower than usual. In the case of the burglary, sources tell Talk of the Sound the response time was 30 minutes and it was 3 hours before New Rochelle police were able to process the crime scene.

Carroll blames a lack of manpower.

"I'm down from 189 officers to 152 with 10 inured for an effect number of 142 officers fit for duty." Carroll said.

Carroll sees transferring security responsibilities from the Board of Education to the Police Department as a potential solution to the depletion of manpower the department had faced for the past several years.

"I get more cops if I need them but during the day they are available for school security", said Carroll.

Police officers in the schools would not have ammunition and would work with the existing civilian security structure.

Carroll said he would also like to involve school crossing guards. He said that $300,000 a year is being spent on crossing guards who are only actually crossing students 1 to 2 hours a day. He would rather see them involved in providing school security, serving as "eyes and ears" outside the building.

On the subject of lockdown/lockout procedures, Carroll says the police department uses their best judgement as to whether to notify area schools of an incident.

In September, the Jefferson Elementary School was put on lockdown after police made school officials aware of a manhunt for a suspect in a robbery on Drake Avenue, several blocks from the school. Despite initial reports that the suspect might have used a gun in the robbery, police later determined from the victim that the initial reports were incorrect.

Two weeks ago, police did not contact school officials following an armed burglary on Willow Avenue near the College of New Rochelle.

Commissioner Carroll said a number of factors go into determining whether to inform school officials of an incident. Typically, the supervisor would make the decision whether to contact school officials.

"Every case is dynamic," said Carroll. "In the Jefferson case, there was an ongoing incident and reports the person had cut through school property. In the Willow Avenue case that was an incident in the past."

The victim in the Willow Avenue case did not call police until 20 minutes after the two suspects fled the scene.

Carroll identified four main factors that go into determining whether to notify area schools of an incident: (1) whether the incident is in progress or in the past; (2) the method of escape such as on foot, in a car, or some other method; (3) an eyewitness saw a suspect enter a school building; (4) or anything else that confirms that the suspect is in the area.

"We don't want to put panic into the system," said Carroll.

Carroll believes that folding school security under the New Rochelle Police Department would allow for a fully integrated response to security incidents resulting in safer schools while giving the department access to additional manpower to response to situations like the situation on New Year's Day.

There are 4 Comments

Did the Police Commissioner really say police officers assigned to school security WOULD NOT HAVE AMMUNITION ?

What would UNARMED OFFICERS do to protect students and staff if a deranged person entered the school with a gun?

QUESTION: Taxpayers, who do we call when the Police Commissioner is "Trying to pick our pockets" by asking the Bd of Ed to transfer their security budget to the police department for the purpose of hiring more police officers?

ANSWER: The City Manager, Mr. Strome. Unfortunately, if the call involves a complaint or concern with the Police Commissioner, doubt he will answer the phone.

Are you kidding me? The police officers don't have enough man power to do their own jobs you want them to do more? It took them two and a half hours to respond to a trespass charge on a neighbor of the Jefferson Elementary School property. When the police officer responded he wanted to know if the trespasser was still there. REALLY, after two and a half hours? His response was that the home owner should call their council person and tell them that there aren't enough police officers on the streets. Of the 151 officers that are on duty how many of those officers are actually on the streets? Not many. PLEASE Commissioner Carroll, give your officers a break, they can't keep up with the work they have, they don't need any more responsibilities.

Robert Cox's picture

South End,

The Police Commissioner is proposing to hire more police officers using the school district budget for security. They would then be assigned to the schools but, in the event of an emergency, could be pulled as part of an emergency response elsewhere in the City.

In my view, the issue here is that we have reached a point of imbalance in the allocation of taxpayer money between the municipal government and the school district. We way too much bureaucracy and other bloated, in effective staff (including security) in the school district and do not have enough money for essential services.

Based on our analysis of the last decade of school budgets and audited financials and the Citizen Advisory Report on the School Budget published last spring, the school district is spending too much, wasting too much and paying people well above market rate for their services. Case in point, security guards are paid over $20/hr in New Rochelle. In other districts in the area the same job (and in some cases the same people) are paid $10-12/hr.

Why are we paying people far above market rate for these jobs? Simply brining these positions in line with prevailing wages would eliminate million in spending.

As an equal opportunity critic of the PD and the BOE, I support Carroll on this one as I believe he can make much better use of the money and we will get a more disciplined, better trained civilian security force within the schools. I am tired of walking into schools and finding security guards AWOL from their post or sitting in chairs reading newspapers or novels and not standing and/or patrolling their assigned sector. NRPD may not be perfect but I expect that if a superior officer finds a security guard AWOL or daydreaming or reading instead of standing post there will be real consequences.

Why do they keep this man? Just think of the waste he is responsible for. He wants his captains to become civilians for only one reason and that is to enhance their pensions. How many dollars were wasted in law suits due to his decisions? Thousands. A study of this waste should be done to expose the wasted money. Time for him to move on has come.

Now he wants to take over the BOE security. I guess because NYCPD is doing it, he should do it here. The problem with the security in the schools in lack of supervision, plain and simple. Carroll would create an entire level of civil service fat by adding sergeants, lieutenants and captains. Does one know how many security officers there are in the BOE? A lot!! He proposes to use them security officers on the street? How? They aren't police officers? Please.
The man never has an original thought. He copies everything from NYCPD and places like Arizona’s burglar alarm program. He should just be concerned with policing the streets and running the department. It is time for this council and manager to speak with him privately and give him notice. What is need here in the city is new, young, fresh ideas not some off the wall idea like taking over the security in our schools. This isn't New York City. If he likes NYC some much, go back.