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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 21, 2013 at 02:59 PM
WHAT A JOKE!!! We are going to hire and pay 3 individuals whom will have NO POWER of authority......FOR WHAT???? TO DO WHAT??? They are not cops, they can't enforce traffic, they can't write violations, they will not be present within the school buildings....just exactly how will they be enhancing the safety of our children??? Mayor French said this has been a dialogoue for 10 years....WOW...if this is what they come up with after ten years of brainstorming I can't wait to see their encore.....GOD HELP US!!! Now they want to involve the safety of our children with their corrupt ways...... IT IS TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE...ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Jim Amico February 21, 2013 at 03:23 PM
We don't need "people" to help us...we need MORE COPS & someone who can run this City that knows what the hell they are doing and a Commissioner that can run a PD like a well oiled machine and the Commissioner needs to be one who has the respect of the Department....do we have that now??? For the last 7 years I have been periodically (in between the stop sign battle) asking for 2 afternoon crossing guards for the children of the RMS/RHS...for those 7 years I have been opposed by our City Council, at one point Mayor French told me (on record) ; "it's budget season, tell the school board to budget it, they have the money". Now after finally seeking the help from our School Superintendent Dr. Alvarez, (no thanks to Ed Shine) the City has budgeted for those "2 crossing guards", only to now tell me they are not sure they will be placed at those 2 particular school crossings. Enough of the games people, your messing with the safety of the children.....REALLY???
Bob Zahm February 21, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Jim - exactly what do you think a single armed individual hanging out inside or at a school is going to be able to accomplish other than "sound the alarm" before engaging the intruder? Sure, there is a very small chance that the guard (policeman or whatever) stops the intruder - dead or alive, but that's a chance. There's also a chance that the guard goes postal (remember that term?) at some point as they are only human and will have their own issues. Of course, the chance of one of only 2 -5 (all Rye City schools covered) going "postal" with appropriate background checks, etc is remote, but still possible. No, I'd rather see any kind of guards at the schools be unarmed. They certainly don't need to be policemen.
Jim Amico February 21, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Bob - Some one looking to do harm is more likely to walk away when spotting "police presence", seeing someone they know they can take advantage of doesn't do anyone any good. Also, police presence will gain respect of the "entitled crowd" that still to this very day "BREAK THE LAWS", do you think the "entitled crowd" will respect the cops or these so called "community service people"? What we need is 2 afternoon crossing guards for those very heavy trafficed crossings and for our PD to step it up......period!!! What we do not need is for our City Council to drag this out, make it something it is not, try to make themselves look like heroes, etc etc!!! This is all completely unnecessary, hire the 2 crossing guards, tell Connors to wake up or ship the hell out and be done with it already.
tedc February 21, 2013 at 04:26 PM
I think I side with Jimmy here Bob. A cop isn't known as a Police Officer for nothing. They are vetted, trained and sworn. Their standard is much higher. And they are armed. I like that although I personally hate guns. I trust cops; I don’t have that feeling for CSW’s. And as for where to get the money – well. Have you seen those Vincent Toomey billings the Rye PBA head has published? The PBA FOIL’s have dredged up so far incomplete filings but already the amounts are staggering – really staggering. It appears that Rye has been transferring the equivalent of 3 or more police officers annual pay every year into Mr. Toomey’s service accounts. And if the PBA raise “ask” is to be believed (and I have no knowledge of it in fact) then this entire so-called negotiation and/or arbitration process has been an artificially extended exercise in wealth transfer out of Rye with absolutely zero Rye taxpayer benefit. I’m pretty floored that the police of Rye have respectfully watched this Toomey charade for as long as they have.
Bob Zahm February 21, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Yes, Jim, if a sane individual is looking to do mass harm [s]he will probably avoid a place w/ a visible police presence in favor of another location. However, I think by definition, the people who pull a Newton are insane. In terms of gaining respect from the "entitled crowd", what's needed is someone who olds all to account - uniform is irrelevant. There's a really good example of this in the MS today. As to the crossing guards, yup, I'm in favor of them, but don't think they'll make a whit of difference when it comes to school security. Just like the idea of posting policemen in the schools - especially if the postings are just during arrival and dismissal times.
Jim Amico February 21, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Bob - Yes, we do need someone who can hold individuals accountable for their actions when breaking the law and putting others in harms way in the process...CSW's are not the answer to this....the POLICE are!!! And yes I agree with you, of course crossing guards won't add security, that was never the purpose of hiring them. As for hiring them, I'm happy we budgeted 30,000 but all that is needed is 15,000(2 half shifts). I never suggested we should try to resolve Crossing Guards issues & Security/Safety issues with "Community Service Workers"??? We spend 500,000 a year on Police overtime, now we add 30,000 to that with hiring of "Community Service Workers", if the PD were run properly and we had the adequate amount of Officers this City needs all would be resolved if we had someone that "actually" knew how to manage a PD!!!! And here we have City Council saying: "city council already took one step towards alleviating police from crossing guard duty"....tell me something, when are the police doing Crossing Guard duties to even be alleviated from???
Jim Amico February 21, 2013 at 06:17 PM
WAIT...HOLD THE PRESSES!!! I JUST HAD A BRAINSTORM...albeit only took me 5 minutes instead of ten years, but hey, wth, lets give it a shot...are you all ready - here it is: lets fire all the cops. the commissioner, and even the parking enforcement officers...then lets replace them with "community service workers". Think of how much we will save by not giving the police a new contract, health benefits, pensions, 500,000 in yearly overtime,etc. WOW....pretty smart idea, don't you think? Now, not even Scott Pickup can come up with something this genious!!!
RyeDad February 21, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Jim: (2) cops coming in early for their shift on overtime for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon doing school crossings for the 180 days that school is in session would cost about $50,000 a year or about 1/1000 of the total City of Rye budget. This would obviously increase police presence at the most vulnerable times. So would having the right amount of cops and supervisors on the force. French and Pickup would rather play games with the lives of our children than to correctly and adequately staff the Rye Police Department. Another solution would be to have Pickup and French ask Rye Country Day School how they are able to have Rye cops do all of their school crossings and perform police duties all day at all of the schools located at the Rye Country Day campus. Also ask Pickup and French if the Rye taxpayers are on the hook for $$$$$$ if one of them gets hurt while working at the Rye Country Day campus.
Jim Amico February 21, 2013 at 11:19 PM
AND YET SOMEHOW MR. SCOTT PICKUP IS STILL EMPLOYED HERE IN RYE?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Bob Zahm February 22, 2013 at 06:25 AM
So if I understand Jim and Ted's position correctly, it is that the proposal to hire "community service workers" has no value and will, in fact, waste money as a.) people will generally not respond to their instructions; b.) only an armed, uniformed policeman would put the fear of god into a potential mass murder as well as miscreant parents who disobey parking, pedestrian crosswalk, speeding, and other city public safety ordinances. Is that right, guys?
Jim Amico February 22, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Bob, I fully respect your position on "armed security". Fact... 1.we have an inadequate PD. 2. We have a poorly managed PD. 3. We spend 500,00 year to year on overtime. 4. Police are figures of Authority and just their mere presence receives the respect we need. 5. Police are not just about guns. 6. Police know the laws and have the power to enforce them...ALL OF THEM! 7. Our Police know our neighborhoods, the families and their children. 8. Other communities utilize their PD's for their schools and those PD's are happy to assist. 9. RCD seems to get the best out of our PD, but here, we pay their salaries and yet we get less when it comes to our schools. 10. What are we suppose to do to get our PD to help protect our schools and the children, pay them private $$$ like RCD?
tedc February 22, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Bob - I did not imply any of the "no value," "waste (of) money," "fear of god" stuff you might think I'm implying. Here is my simple view copied accurately from above - "I think I side with Jimmy here Bob. A cop isn't known as a Police Officer for nothing. They are vetted, trained and sworn. Their standard is much higher. And they are armed. I like that although I personally hate guns. I trust cops; I don’t have that feeling for CSW’s".
Bob Zahm February 22, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Jim - I've heard the OT number described as a problem. However, there typically is some value in having overtime as benefits for new employees are more expensive then having existing personnel work some OT. As OT contributes to the cost of pensions, the calculation to determine if $500k is too much would take some work. Additionally, before you and Ted continue to push for police in the Rye schools, I believe the School District should be asked if they would support such a move.
Bob Zahm February 22, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Ted - my take is that you and Jim both believe that the Community Service Workers make no sense and that only police presence will have the desired impact on both potential mass murders and local miscreants. In looking at your comments again, I see that neither your nor Jim talked about waste of money (my opinion slipping in) although Jim talks about the cost of police OT and you talk about money spent on other items that could be used to defray the cost of an increase in the police force. Jim does speak directly to the value police have for (whether it is due to respect or intimidation) getting peopel to obey laws.
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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