New York’s school police force is already the largest in the nation by far. There are currently 4,451 employed school safety agents, according to the NYPD – or about one for every 230 students. Los Angeles, the second-largest school district in the nation, employs about 236 officers – or about one for every 1,800 students.

Some Black and Latino students said encountering school safety agents and going through metal detectors can be traumatizing for people like them. Research from the US Department of Education shows Black and Latino kids are disproportionately impacted by school policing nationwide. According to an analysis of school policing in NYC from 2016-21 by the Urban Youth Collaborative — an advocacy organization that aims to end school policing — Black and Latino students made up 66.2% of the student population but accounted for over 90% of school arrests. The New York Civil Liberties Union argues that school policing contributes to the “school-to-prison pipeline”: educational policies that expose students to the criminal justice system in their youth.

NYPD’s deputy commissioner of public information said school safety agents are integrated into the school community.

“The NYPD and School Safety Division have ongoing open dialogue with child advocacy groups, students, and other stakeholders in order to respond to concerns, while maintaining a balance between the safety of the entire school community and the importance of not criminalizing our youth,” the NYPD statement said.

Filling open public safety officer positions has been a struggle in recent years, according to Greg Floyd: the president of the union representing school safety agents. Many agents have retired or found other work since the height of the pandemic. Some left or were terminated after they did not turn in their required proof of the COVID vaccination. About 500 new agents were hired last year, but as many jobs still remain vacant.

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