School safety agents make more than 400 weapon, drug seizures over 4 months

Safety agents recovered weapons, drugs and other contraband in and around city schools on 355 occasions from July 1 to Nov. 1, records show.

The safety agents seized knives, stun guns and illegal drugs from students at dozens of city schools, recovering 462 outlawed items in the period, according to the official tally obtained by the Daily News.

In one incident, a student at Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School was nabbed taking an 8-inch steak knife to class. In another, an agent busted a student carrying a machete at the Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies in the Bronx.

Local 237 President Gregory Floyd, whose union represents the school safety agents, said the alarming cases show how badly they are needed.

“These stats prove there is danger every day for our agents and our children,” said Floyd, whose union includes 5,000 active agents. “Our members keep New York City schoolchildren safe.”

he agents are employees of the NYPD and get much of the same training as police officers, but they do not carry weapons or wear bulletproof vests.

Among the outlawed items agents confiscated from students during the four-month period were 11 BB guns, 185 knives, 52 box cutters and 64 other weapons. Agents also discovered students with marijuana at school 67 times during that period.

Most of the incidents took place in the Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. They resulted in 30 arrests and 74 summonses.

The Franklin K. Lane High School building in Brooklyn and the Walton High School building in the Bronx, both of which house multiple schools, topped the tally with five incidents each of agents seizing weapons.

Mayor de Blasio unveiled a plan last Monday to overhaul school safety procedures, including a possible program to review the use of metal detectors in some schools.

But Floyd, who said he wasn’t consulted, has blasted the plan, and said it could create more safety risks by limiting scanning.

City Education Department officials said that school crime is down, with 27% fewer arrests and 15% fewer summonses issued by the School Safety Division in the 2014-15 school year as compared with the 2013-14 school year.

“We’re focused on ensuring the safety of every student and staff member,” said agency spokeswoman Devora Kaye. “We will continue to ensure students are in safe environments where they can learn and succeed.”

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Advocates Want Salon Workers To Get Training In Spotting Domestic Abuse

The front line in the fight against domestic abuse could be hair stylists.

At a City Council committee hearing today, prosecutors and domestic violence experts campaigned for hair stylists, cosmetologists, and nail technicians to go through mandatory training to spot signs of abuse, and help victims.

When women sit in that hair chair, a unique bond is created between them and their stylist. The City Council heard from sponsors of a resolution today that aims to capitalize on that bond for the safety of women in abusive relationships.

“There’s a confessional door that closes when you sit in the chair,” said Marek Hartwig, owner of Marek Bridal Styling.

Hartwig, a 25-year veteran of the industry, said his clients feel like they can tell him anything, and now he’s one of thousands of hair stylists in Illinois who could use their stylist/client bond to become an integral part in the war to stop domestic violence.

“There’s a trust, and they tell things more to a stylist than they tell probably anybody else, because it’s a no judge zone,” Hartwig said.

He and his peers could soon be required to take a one-hour training class before the next time their licenses come up for renewal.

“I completely agree with it,” Hartwig said.

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Shooting plot thwarted at Virginia school

WASHINGTON – Two teens were arrested after police thwarted a plot “to commit acts of violence against the students and staff” at Riverbend High School near Fredericksburg, Virginia, according to the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s department.

A 15-year-old and a 17-year-old boy, whom police did not name, were arrested after a school resource officer learned of the plot. The teens were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and are being held at Rappahannock Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

According to police, one of the teens was arrested Oct. 12 on a charge of threatening violence by means of Internet. “[The school resource officer] felt that there was something that didn’t quite fit in what he was looking at the time, so he began to dig a little deeper — and thus uncovered this situation,” Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeffery Pearce said.

Police said that’s what led investigators to the second teen, who was arrested on Friday.

“It became apparent that these two were serious and in their planning stages to carry out acts of violence with firearms and with knives … and that they planned to do this in the school,” Pearce said.

No additional suspects are believed to be involved in this conspiracy.

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Should campus security have guns? N.J. colleges are split

As recently as two years ago, Princeton University officials said its Ivy League campus was no place for guns, not even for security personnel.

“We have in place a number of measures that will ensure that if there is a risk … police can rapidly have the appropriate response without having our own police officers armed,” President Shirley Tilghman told The Daily Princetonian at the time.

But that was 2013, before Umpqua Community College, Texas Southern University, Northern Arizona University, Delta State University and dozens of other American colleges and universities where people have been shot and sometimes killed.

And so within the past week, Princeton joined a growing number of institutions of higher learning that are arming their school security squads.

The decision to arm college and university security personnel is complex, with administrators having to balance the deterrent effect that armed police may have against the cost of arming and training security team members, law enforcement and researchers say. Liability also is a concern, they said.

Colleges and universities across New Jersey take a range of approaches toward giving security forces firearms. A majority of four-year public schools have armed security, but most community colleges do not. A survey of seven private, four-year universities found similarly mixed results.

In Princeton’s case, the university considered the question several times in recent years, but it was beat back by student and administration opposition. The decision to arm campus police officers this time came after the university’s Department of Public Safety consulted with local police, before the recent rash of campus shootings.

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Weapon-free zones not allowed at Oregon’s community colleges

Oregon community college administrators are striving to tighten security after the mass shootings at one of the two-year schools. But they can’t arm their own guards or remove someone who appears on campus with a gun.

Umpqua Community College, the Roseburg school where nine people and the gunman died and nine more were wounded Oct. 1, posts only one security guard armed with pepper spray on its 100-acre campus.

That’s typical of community colleges with similar enrollments across the state, said Abby Lee, a public information officer at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, near Oregon’s border with Idaho.

Lee said Treasure Valley has a full-time security director and six part-time campus officers, none of whom carries a gun.

Administrators have directed officers to patrol buildings and become more visible since the shootings at Umpqua. But Lee said her school has received conflicting legal advice on its weapons-free policy, which bans firearms including guns carried by students, faculty members and employees who have concealed-weapons permits.

“There’s not a community college that isn’t reviewing its policies and procedures,” she said. “We’re still very much reeling. We’re all looking for answers, trying to find that one answer that would have prevented this.”

State law does not allow the two-year colleges to form police departments staffed with armed, state-certified law enforcement officers. Weapons-free zones declared by many school administrators are riddled with exceptions that immobilize officers confronted by gun-toting strangers.

Legislators in key positions to change the law to permit two-year colleges to shift from stationing security guards to deploying certified police officers carrying firearms show no intention of forcing the issue. Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who chairs the interim Judiciary Committee, said he plans to bring community college leaders together to hear their opinions and discuss whether their schools should gain that authority, which public four-year universities already have.

“We have legislative days set for November and January, and this is one of those issues that we definitely want to look at in great detail,” said Prozanski, who survived a recall campaign this year after the Legislature expanded background checks on gun sales. “But we will not want to rush this process.”

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, also doesn’t want to hurry through changes, but may favor a minor budget increase to boost community-college security staffing. Legislators raised Oregon community-college funding in their last session, but money remains tight. The $550 million appropriated for 2015-2017 remains about $20 million short of pre-recession support when adjusted for inflation.

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Special police unit battles crime at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets

A special plain-clothed overtime police detail was able to catch numerous shoplifters this summer at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, Police Chief Brian Byard said Oct. 1.

Overall, officers worked 176 overtime hours and recovered more than $10,000 in stolen merchandise, starting June 5 after the city received a $12,000 grant from Ohio Criminal Justice Services.

“Our goal was to combat organized retail theft rings by arresting shoplifters, reduce the number of shoplifting incidents and educate retail associates,” Byard said. “Over the course of the three months, the enforcement action resulted in numerous arrests for theft and receiving stolen property, and the seizure of thousands of dollars in counterfeit currency.”

In June, officers worked 62 overtime hours, resulting in 14 arrests, five of which were repeat offenders involved in organized retail theft.

In July, officers worked 29 overtime hours, which resulted in four arrests. In August, officers compiled 85 overtime hours with two arrests.

Byard said those targeted were “professional shoplifters” carrying booster bags and the tools necessary to remove security sensors.

“They’re often the repeat offenders well known to mall security,” he said, adding within the first hour of the detail, Aurora police arrested two people for shoplifting after they attempted to flee on foot.

“The increase in hours and the decrease in arrests are a good indicator that word had spread among those who target shopping malls around Northeast Ohio” because the suspects had less of a presence over the summer, he said.

“We are happy to see that some of the habitual offenders have been caught and prosecuted accordingly,” Byard said. “We hope to receive additional grant funding in the future for other details around the city.”

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Women staff to guard Civil Hospital

Jallianwalla Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital has hired women security staff to deal with any untoward situation involving women on the hospital premises. At times, relatives of patients resort to protest on the hospital premises and security personnel have to intervene to control the situation.

The new female security guards have been provided by a private company hired by the hospital to look into the security of the hospital. As the hospital had a shortage of security guards earlier, employees had complained about the same on various occasions.

Senior medical officer Hardeep Singh Ghai said: “The enhanced security would help employees in performing their duties without fear. Even these female security guards would be used to guard labour and gynaecology wards where usually male staff cannot be deployed.”

He said the hospital staff had been facing various problems due to the non-availability of security guards. The hospital had engaged 11 new security guards, he said.

Dr Ghai said the hospital had earlier got CCTV cameras installed inside the building to keep an eye on suspicious persons.

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Puerto Rico Police Seize $5.4 Million Drug Shipment

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Authorities were searching Sunday for three suspects who allegedly attempted to smuggle $5.4 million worth of drugs into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic.

Police said they arrested Teofilo Tineo Gonzalez, a 36-year-old Dominican man, after seizing about 518 pounds (235 kilograms) of cocaine and heroin and a 22-foot (6.7-meter) boat on the coast west of San Juan, but three other suspects got away.

Police Superintendent Jose Caldero said authorities were hunting for three others they believe were aboard the boat that left the Dominican Republic for the U.S. territory on Wednesday night.

A hotel security guard alerted police around 10 p.m. Saturday about four people unloading packages from the boat in a suspicious manner. Police were interviewing the arrested man before turning him over to federal authorities.

The superintendent said police this year have seized about 14,300 pounds (6,500 kilograms) of drugs, mostly cocaine, more than what was seized in 2013 and 2014 combined.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also having a record year. Last month, it seized $41 million worth of cocaine and marijuana during Caribbean interventions.

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Oregon shooting brings Florida’s “Guns on Campus” debate to forefront

SARASOTA, Fla. — Thursday’s mass shooting in Oregon rekindled concern for campus safety and conversations about Florida’s “guns on campus” debate.

We asked students on the campus of New College of Florida if they would want the right to carry a gun. The ones we spoke to said they feel safe already, and worry that allowing guns on campus would jeopardize safety.

“I do not think it’s a good idea. that would make me feel very unsafe if more people had guns on campus,” said one New College student.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable with students on this campus or any college campus having firearms,” said another. “Because I think there’s a really strong risk of people operating them or just messing around with them while not sober. I think it’s a huge safety risk.”

State Representative Greg Steube (R-Bradenton) argues that it’s a student’s right to have a weapon on campus, and he says that Second Amendment right is crucial in preventing school shootings.

“America’s based on the freedom to be able to defend yourself, to defend others, and the inherent right to self defense; and for some reason, we have stripped that right as you enter a college campus,” said Steube.

Steube says the incident in Oregon only “adds an exclamation point” to his argument, but Curt Lavarello of the School Safety Advocacy Council says the bill would only perpetuate the problem.

“We know one thing,” said Lavarello, “we’re not going to reduce school gun violence by bringing more guns.”

He says it’s instead important to focus our efforts on things like access to mental health treatment, as well as catching any red flags early on. He also says allowing guns on campuses may make it difficult for law enforcement to quickly identify the good guy and bad guy in the situation.

“The dynamics of a school shooting are very difficult already,” said Lavarello. “I can’t imagine being a police officer and having to respond to a school where the report is ‘there’s one bad armed person and 20 good armed people’ and then having to make a split second decision.”

But Steube argues that’s a daily aspect of law enforcement’s job.

“They do it everywhere else,” he said. “In our state malls, shopping plazas, restaurants, so if they’re trained to a handle a situation there, why can’t they handle it on a college campus?”\

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New NYC law will mandate reporting on school metal detectors

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City Council is expected to pass a bill requiring the school system to disclose how many students must pass through metal detectors to get to school.

The Council will vote Wednesday on amendments to the 2011 Student Safety Act.

That law requires the police and the city Department of Education to issue reports twice a year with information including how many students are arrested and how many are suspended.

The amended law will require additional information to be reported including how many schools have metal detectors.

Authorities will also have to report how many students are placed in handcuffs or other restraints.

Backers of the amended law rallied at City Hall on Tuesday.

City Council Member Mathieu Eugene says the new data-reporting rules will increase transparency.

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