In some shrewd legislative maneuvering this week, State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Boro Park, Flatbush, Kensington, Bensonhurst) agreed to reauthorize the city’s use of speed cameras in front of schools as long as all the revenue generated from its enforcement go to funding an armed New York City Police member in front of public schools.
His support came in the form of an amendment to his own proposed bill requiring a precautionary armed cop in front of every school in the wake of continued deadly school shootings around the country.
Felder introduced the measure earlier this year. The amendment to include the reauthorization of the speed cameras with the revenue paying for the armed cops addresses Mayor Bill de Blasio saying the city can’t afford to have a cop patrolling at every school.
“I think it’s reasonable to use the money from the camera program, which was set up to protect children, to fund having an armed police officer in front of – not patrolling, but in front of public schools – to protect our children,” said Felder.
Other amendments to Felder’s bill, which originally had an armed cop outside both public and private schools, now only has them outside public schools, and calls for lockdown and shooter drills. It also has an opt out clause if the school principal, the PTA and the community education district together decide with a two/thirds majority vote that they don’t want an armed policeman.
“With every school shooting it becomes more clear that we must secure our schools, but we have legislators and community leaders who still refuse to recognize the urgent need. We should be planning improved security for the coming school year, now,” said Felder.
De Blasio, not only wants the cameras reauthorized until 2020, but wants them expanded in both number 140 to 29 – and range within schools. Without reauthorization the current camera program expires next month.
Felder’s support for the cameras is crucial as he chairs the Senate’s Cities Committee. As such, he has to sign off on the matter before it can move to the senate floor for a full vote. He has long opposed the cameras because he sees their use as mainly a way to generate revenue for the city.
Felder’s insists on tying the two issues together because they both have to do with school safety.
“I believe these amendments should finally allow all of us to come together in the name of safety and security for our children and make a lifesaving difference,” he said.
Felder’s maneuvering comes as the 2018 state legislative session is nearing its June 20 closing date.
It’s now up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Senate Majority leader John Flanagan (R) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) to carve out some kind of deal or both the speed cameras and the armed cop protecting schools measure or neither will see the light of day.