cal security offered by metal detectors was only a small part of what was needed. The CDC worked with the Board of Education and the Department of Health to put together comprehensive antiviolence recommendations that all could support.51

Improving School Safety

That New York City schools were unsafe was not news to the chancellor or his staff.52 They had been asking for increased funding for metal detectors and other programs, without success. In addition, they had worked hard to convince principals to accept these programs. Carol Beck had been particularly opposed to the institution of metal detectors, fearing that they made school seem like a prison. The Sumpter shooting shifted attitudes dramatically: those unwilling to fund the security programs became ready to do so, and those opposed to their use then were now ready to accept them.

At the time of the shooting, having a “metal detector program” meant that a team of security personnel came to the school on a rotating basis and checked students using handheld instruments. On February 27th, the day after the Sumpter shooting, Chancellor Joseph Fernandez told a meeting of high school principals that he would ask the city for money to put a metal detector team at each of the city’s 120 high schools.53 According to newspaper reports, metal detectors were “immediately” placed at Jefferson on a daily basis.54

Politicians worked quickly to secure funds. State assembly speaker Saul Weprin, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, joined with other leading politicians in the effort to obtain financial support. By March 1, 1992, Mayor Dinkins had announced a $28 million plan to improve school safety. The plan included the following elements:

  • Metal detectors will be used on all school days at Thomas Jefferson, Erasmus Hall, George W. Wingate, and Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn and James Monroe High School in the Bronx. These high schools have had high incidences of violence and weapons seizures.

  • After a Police Department audit of the system’s 120 high schools, three schools will be added to the upgraded security program.

  • The Police Department will conduct daily patrols inside and outside these schools. Each school will also appoint a security coordinator.

  • The Department of Mental Health and the Department of Youth Services will develop supplemental programs at the 40 high schools and in their communities dealing with violence prevention and crime.

  • There will be additional after-school programs at these schools and violence prevention training for teachers and students.

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