NYPD is hiring young school safety agent cadets. Not all students are fans. | #schoolsaftey

Recent graduates of New York City schools could soon be patrolling the halls under a new effort to boost the ranks of the city’s school safety agents.

The NYPD has a plan to hire assistant school safety agents who will provide added security while giving them job training. But some teens argue more policing in schools will only make them feel less safe.

“That’s going to lead to more criminalization of our students. Why shouldn’t we be training them up on restorative practices and mediating these conflicts?” said Tina Zeng, an 18-year-old student at Millennium High School in Brooklyn.

The NYPD, which oversees school safety agents, is still finalizing the position’s details, a spokesperson said. But the job would be open to U.S. citizens aged 18-21 with high school degrees. The assistants would work alongside fully credentialed school safety agents in elementary schools, greeting students, directing visitors, answering phones, monitoring doors and calling 911 if needed. At 21, the trainee would have to take the civil service exam to continue in the position. An NYPD spokesperson likened the effort to the department’s cadet program, which hires college students for part time jobs, putting them in the pipeline to become full-time cops.

Gregory Floyd, president of the union representing school safety agents, said he supports the idea, although he’d also like to see the city grow the number of fully qualified officers. “It’s a nice apprentice program, in theory, to give young people a chance of employment,” he said.

Mona Davids, founder of the New York City School Safety Coalition, said her group has been pushing for the new role for some time.

“It’s a great opportunity for our young people,” she said. “Not all 18-year-olds want to go to college, some have to work. This [will] give them a full-time job and benefits.” Her group has long advocated for more security in schools, including more agents and metal detectors.

The number of school safety agents has plummeted in recent years, from 5,052 in 2019 to 3,645 in 2024, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. High turnover, pandemic school closures, politics and budget cuts have all played a role in thinning the ranks.

In 2020, following nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the City Council voted against hiring 1,000 police officers, including hundreds of school safety agents. Since then the city has had trouble filling open school safety agent positions. Last year, Adams eliminated some vacant positions as part of broader budget cuts throughout local government. At one point last fall, Adams suggested he might ask parents to volunteer and help keep schools safe.

NYPD data shows 4,975 weapons were seized at schools in the current school year through April 28. Among those weapons were 11 guns and 2,273 knives. The total was down compared to the same period in the previous school year, when authorities recovered 5,618 weapons.

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