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BY COLIN MIXSON
Local elected officials are demanding the city layout clear guidelines for notifying teachers of potential emergency situations in light of revelations that a local school was left oblivious to a gunman on the loose following a shooting that occurred mere blocks away last week.
Security officers and administrators at the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School only found out about the April 24 shooting the morning after the incident that wounded two people nearby, after a parent mentioned the grizzly occurrence to staff there, the vigilant mom said.
“I actually was the one that told the school,” said Wendy Chapman, whose son attends LMC. “No one officially contacted the school and I was thinking that, it turned out this was a tragic shooting, but what if it was terrorism? They’re all trained to do lock downs, but the biggest piece is someone has to call them.”
The shooting occurred on Washington Street near Battery Place — just two blocks from the Broadway middle school — at 3:10 pm, just as kids were pouring into the streets to head home for the day.
The gunman, meanwhile, was still on the loose, and a suspect wouldn’t be apprehended until the following Wednesday.
But nobody from the NYPD ever notified the school.
Now a cadre of local politicians including Councilwoman Margaret Chin, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly members Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Borough President Gale Brewer are demanding that the police department and Office of Emergency Management provide the community with its guidelines governing communications with schools during emergency situations, or, in the event none exist, to create such protocols.
Staff at city schools are trained to implement various safety procedures in response to different threats, including gunmen inside and outside of the buildings.
But those procedures are useless if city agencies don’t communicate threats to local scholars, the politicians say.
“When these incidents occur, schools and their safety officers in the surrounding area should be the first ones to be notified,” the politicians wrote letters to the NYPD, Department of Education, and OEM. “We rely on them to protect our children, and without the proper information, they are unable to do their jobs.”
The NYPD currently has no set guidelines for communicating with schools, according to department spokesman Lieutenant John Grimpel, and leaves to decision to supervisors on the scene to determine whether a potential threat warrants schools be notified and security procedures implemented. But the city’s Office of Emergency Management has set up a meeting with the NYPD, DOE, and local elected officials on May 9 to address the concerns they expressed in their letter, and review existing emergency protocols as they relate to schools, according to OEM spokeswoman Nancy Silvestri.