Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in southeast Queens last week he is taking off the kid gloves, promising to get tough on school violence with a new plan that will bolster security at problem schools and stiffen punishments for offenders.
Bloomberg unveiled the plan on Dec. 23 at the High School of Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Jamaica, where the tough-talking mayor said he will zero in on the schools with the most violent incidents and impose a three-strikes policy with repeat offenders.
Weve tolerated this long enough, Bloomberg said about the ongoing spate of violence and crimes in the citys public schools. Its time we do something about it.
Slated to take effect on Jan. 5, the plan, which will employ some tactics and strategies the New York Police Department uses in battling street crimes, will target the high schools and middle schools where there are the most incidents of violence.
In those schools, which will be called Impact Schools, Bloomberg will double the number of safety officers and police officers assigned to monitor the schools. The strategy is based on NYPDs Operation Impact, an initiative implemented under Bloomberg which increases police presence in high-crime neighborhoods.
Bloomberg said the schools that will be selected for the program have not yet been determined.
Crime is down in the city and its because of programs like Operation Impact, Bloomberg said. Its the same kind of aggressive new steps we will be using at Impact Schools. We will be flooding hallways and cafeterias with as many adults as the school can muster.
In addition to increased vigilance on school grounds, the mayor wants to assign probation officers to schools and put school personnel in courts to expedite information to judges about student defendants.
The mayor expressed little sympathy for repeat offenders, saying he would make sure they get tossed out of school and quickly placed in off-site suspension centers.
Feel sorry for them? Bloomberg asked. How about the those they prey on?
Also included in the plan are changes to out-of-school suspensions, which will be increased from five days to 10.
Four new off-site suspension centers will be opened and four additional New Beginnings centers will be created which repeat offenders will attend for up to six months.
Minor infractions will be dealt with more stringently and a zero tolerance policy regarding felony crimes committed on campus will result in immediate suspension. Under that policy, students with three infractions, regardless of severity, will also be suspended.
The plan will establish a school safety hotline and will add more metal detectors to schools.
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein praised the mayors plan, saying the most important underlying keys are the initiatives focus on increasing control over students and imposing tougher penalties for offenders.
Its going to take all of us working together, Klein said.
Reach reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2004 Community News Group
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