Mayor de Blasio Announces Expansion of Programs to Keep Students in School and Improve Overall School Safety

February 27, 2017

NYC schools see historically low crime rate for the first half of the 2016-17 school year; arrests and summonses in schools continue to decline

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New York City Police Department, and Department of Education today announced the expansion of school justice initiatives designed to minimize unnecessary court involvement for students and increase effective school-based interventions. The City also released the fourth quarter Student Safety Act data, showing that school-based arrests and summonses are continuing to decline as crime for the first half of this school year decreased by 7 percent compared to the previous year, reaching an all-time low.

“Our students belong in the classroom, learning with their peers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Through our investments in school-based interventions, we are improving student behavior while keeping our teens out of trouble, and the effects are undeniable – crime is at an all-time low and graduation is at an all-time high.”

“The NYPD is actively committed to the safety of our students – whether it is through the actions of our crossing guards, school safety agents or police officers who, each day, dedicate themselves to the protection of the city’s children and schools,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We are proud to see this reduction in enforcement activity and are working to ensure that this trend continues through the expansion of initiatives such as the Warning Card Program. The NYPD will continue to partner with the Department of Education to ensure the success of our students and provide a safe environment for them to excel and reach their full potential.”

“Schools are safe havens for communities, and we are encouraged by the continued decrease in school-related arrests and summonses,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We are providing students with extra guidance counselors, trainings on preventative techniques, and tools to take ownership and address misbehavior. By holding our school communities accountable for safe and inclusive learning environments we’ll continue to keep kids in the classroom where they can learn and achieve.”

“Last year the City received recommendations from members of the Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline to make investments into programs that would enhance school climate while minimizing unnecessary contact with the justice system,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer. “The expansion of the Warning Cards program and Youth Represents’ partnership with schools reflects our commitment to seek ongoing ways in which we can deliver on those recommendations – to safely reduce unnecessary arrests and justice involvement while enhancing public safety for all.” 

As part of the City’s comprehensive strategy to continue improving school climate and ensure the safety of all school buildings through effective interventions that address behavioral concerns, the DOE and NYPD are expanding two initiatives citywide. Specific programs announced include: 

Expansion of the Warning Card Program to a total of 71 schools Citywide:

  • The program gives NYPD officers and School Safety Agents the discretion to issue a “Warning Card” to students who are 16 years of age or older instead of issuing a criminal summons for two low-level infractions – possession of small amounts of marijuana and disorderly conduct – that occur on school grounds.
  • The pilot was launched in the fall of 2015 in 37 schools across 5 Bronx school campuses –  Evander Childs, Adlai E. Stevenson, Walton, John F. Kennedy, and Herbert H. Lehman campus – and after just one year, there was a 14 percent decline (down from 133 in SY 2014-15 to 115 during SY 2015-16) in the number of summonses issued for small amounts of marijuana and disorderly conduct at these campuses.
  • This spring, the program is expanding to reach an additional 34 schools across 11 campuses: Richmond Hill High School, James Madison High School, South Shore Campus, Martin Luther King Jr Campus, Thomas Jefferson Campus, Washington Irving Campus, High School for Environmental Studies, Port Richmond High School, New Dorp Campus, Benjamin Cardozo High School, John Bowne High school.
  • This program provides an alternative to court involvement, while still holding students accountable for their actions through school-based interventions, including disciplinary measures and guidance interventions, and provides training and ongoing support for NYPD and DOE staff to ensure a successful implementation.

Citywide expansion of School Justice Project:

  • The program provides free legal assistance to students in clearing summonses, and provides “Know Your Rights” trainings to schools located in areas with historically high rates of summonses and arrests.
  • The number of summonses issued for quality of life offenses has declined and the City has streamlined the process to make responding easier -- nearly four in ten summonses issued have historically resulted in a warrant for failure to appear in court, which can impact the likelihood of future detention.  
  • As part of the City’s commitment to reducing unnecessary arrests, the program focuses on clearing summonses as an intervention to not only reduce arrests of school-aged youth, but also provide an opportunity for students to increase their understanding of the legal system and to address contact with the justice system immediately so it does not create collateral consequences in a young person’s life. 
  • In partnership with the non-profit legal organization Youth Represent, the program launched in Evander Childs Campus in November 2016 and will be available to students Citywide this year.

The NYPD also released the fourth quarter data pursuant to the Student Safety Act, marking the first full year of quarterly reporting by the NYPD and providing New Yorkers with data on school-based NYPD response, including arrests and summonses. This data increases transparency and accountability, and informs the public on areas for further attention to continuously improve safety within schools.

Overview of fourth quarter data from NYPD report:

  • 373 arrests for school based incidents, a decrease from arrest levels in Q1 (436) and Q2 (430)
  • 254 summonses issued in the schools, a decrease from Q1 (339) and Q2 (259)
  • Injuries to School Security Division Officers (down to 17) and complaints made against School Safety Agents (down to 30) both decreased compared to previous quarters
  • Restraints were used in the schools 554 times, down from 673 in Q1 and 617 in Q2
    (Please note this data represents arrests, summonses and restraints for all individuals in school buildings, including non-students.)

Criminal incidents recorded by the school safety division for the first half of the 2015-16 school year are down 7 percent compared to the previous year. This reduction continues the downward trend in total index crime in schools, which has decreased by 35 percent over the last five years.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with MOCJ and the DOE to provide critical legal services and Know Your Rights Trainings to students citywide,” said Executive Director of Youth Represent Laurie Parise.

“Keeping our schools safe is a top priority for the New York City Police Department,” said Assistant Chief Brian Conroy, Commanding Officer of the School Safety Division. “We are encouraged that crimes in schools continue to decline to record lows, while enforcement activity has also decreased significantly over the past 5 years. Police Officers and School Safety Agents work closely with school officials to ensure a safe learning environment. The Warning Card Program is an example of the efforts by both the New York City Police Department and Department of Education to utilize alternatives to enforcement activity to address low level offenses committed in schools.”

“Our young people deserve to learn in an environment that treats each student with dignity, fairness, and respect,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Suspensions and zero tolerance policies may have been well intentioned, but, as data collected through the Student Safety Act clearly shows, they adversely impacted vulnerable students, failed to lead to positive behavioral changes, and hurt academic success. As statistics collected by the police department show, restorative justice works. It is making our classrooms safer and expanding our young people’s education by including valuable social and emotional skills. As Public Safety Chair, I am thrilled that our restorative justice programs will be implemented into even more New York City Schools, reaching even more students. I commend Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for their dedication to the safety and success of all of our students.”

“NYC schools are safer thanks to our city's restorative justice approach to school discipline,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. “By hiring extra guidance counselors, offering additional staff trainings and expanding the Warning Card Program, our schools are addressing the roots of behavioral problems. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for taking action to keep our children in the classroom and out of the courthouse. I am proud to be a part of this effort which is having a transformative impact on public education in our city.”

“I’m pleased that school safety has improved, and commend the Mayor, Chancellor, and Police Commissioner for pursuing a more school-based approach to safety and discipline,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “We’re moving in the right direction, but there’s room to do even better, and I’m looking forward to the day we’ll be able to celebrate decreased racial disparities in school discipline-related arrests.”

“I am pleased that there is a significant decline of crimes in our schools. I applaud the DOE, NYPD and all school officials for their efforts to ensure that our schools are safe spaces for all students. There is still much to be done to and we must all work together to achieve the goal of eliminating crimes in our schools,” said NY State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud.

“The Mayor’s initiatives and the priority placed on the importance of the school system have led to a dramatic drop in criminal activity in our schools,” said State Assemblymember Jaime Williams. “This progress must continue and only with the continued support of the combined efforts of all elected officials and parents and families can we ensure that crime continues to drop and the importance of education is prioritized.”

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