September 1, 2023
Moderator: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for today's public safety briefing led by Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks. Following our last speaker, we'll take a few questions from the media, followed by some questions that have been submitted by the public ahead of today's briefing. I'd now like to turn it over to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks.
Deputy Mayor Philip Banks III, Public Safety: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to today's public briefing. Every Friday we hold these discussions to let you, the public, hear directly from leaders throughout the city about the ways in which we are working to keep you safe and the information you need to help protect yourselves and loved ones. This is a two way street. This is a collaboration.
We need to hear from you and how we can do that is if you sign up from hearfromeric.com. There you could be apprised of future topics we're going to discuss, and that is a platform for you to send us your suggestions and your questions. Today, I'm joined here by three guests: of course, the mayor of New York City, Mayor Eric Adams. We have the Department of Education chancellor, David Banks, and the NYPD commissioner, Ed Caban.
You will be hearing about the use of technology that will increase security at our schools; programs to protect students' well being and their opportunity to succeed; the NYPD will be discussing the recap of this summer, the Labor Day weekend, J'Ouvert, and also some back to school partnerships with the NYPD. And with that. I will turn it over to the mayor of the City New York, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thanks so much, Phil, Deputy Mayor Banks. I really want to thank our school chancellor, David Banks, and our police commissioner, Eddie Caban. You have heard me state over and over again if you don't educate, you will incarcerate.
And the numbers bear that out. 80 percent of the men and women on Rikers Island on my last check don't have a high school diploma or an equivalency diploma, and some of them are there because, I always state, is the betrayal of our education system that has a downstream mindset. Any time you have a system where 30 to 40 percent of those who are incarcerated are experiencing learning disabilities like dyslexia, we create a pathway for imprisonment and not a pathway for careers.
And that's why we are all here together. One of the first things we did was to create a relationship between our police department and the Department of Education. Chancellor Banks and the former police commissioner Keechant Sewell ensured that the commanders had regular meetings and check ins with the principals of schools and superintendents.
That developed an amazing relationship, and it's not lost on me that we have not had one shooting on school property or inside a school building. As we have witnessed mass shootings and shootings across the country inside school buildings, we have not had a shooting in a school building in the City of New York, and I think it has a lot to do with that collaboration. But we've always talked about our upstream approach, and Chancellor Banks will go into some of the upstream approaches that we are implementing, not only last year but during this school year in the development of the full personhood of our children on so many different levels.
He gave me a briefing this morning, and I'm excited as we start the new school year. With all the challenges that we are facing, it is clear to us that we are ready to accept those challenges. If you start a school year hoping everything is going to be smooth without any bumps in the road, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. We must adjust to those bumps, pivot and shift and make sure that we can create a safe environment, we can educate our children and have a productive year in school. We can't fail our schools. It produces negative effects down the line, and it's something that we're going to continue to fight to move our children in the right direction.
New York City school children deserve to learn, just also just to be kids. School should be fun, enjoyable. They should be excited about meeting their friends and introducing themselves to new friends. And when the first day of school is just around the corner, I want to be clear that we are creating a school system where every child cannot just survive but the child could thrive. When we invest upstream, our children will invest in the city's future. And since day one, this administration has believed that, and we'll continue to lean into that.
I was extremely proud when the chancellor instituted the universal dyslexia screening program. Look at the numbers: over a half a million students have gone through a level of some form of screening; and when you identify those 1,500 approximately that were indicators that we need to drill down on, we were catching them upstream to give them the services that they deserve. No child should go through what I went through waiting until college before identifying that I had a learning disability. We need to stop the pipeline, and that's what this chancellor is committed to do in partnership with our police commissioner.
And reading and math are the foundation of everything we do, so we are making a historic shift in the way we teach our young people reading and math through New York City Reads. This is an extremely exciting pivot in what we have been doing for far too long: making literacy, reading and math instruction the core focus of our public schools. But now for some of our children, the breakfast and lunch they eat at school are their only meals. Think about that, breakfast and lunch for many of our children is the most important meal for them, and it is the most stable meal that they receive.
We are taking a giant step forward to making sure our students have access to healthy, nutritious meals that are culturally appropriate is vital to keeping our young people New Yorkers in school. I don't think there's ever been a student in the history of the New York City public school system that did not say that the school meals are terrible. We want to turn that around. We want them to enjoy the meals, to be part of the engagement, looking at the cafeterias, changing the lunchroom experience. And I was really impressed this morning during the briefing when Chancellor Banks talked about how he sat down with students and had lunch with them, engaged in not academic but engaged in just everyday conversation, and he encouraged the principals that we had this morning to do the same.
We want to make sure that every student who graduates from a New York City school will have a clear pathway to the future. That is why we are leading the way with programs like Summer Youth Program, Summer Rising program and Future Ready New York City program. We also want to make sure that recreation is solid and safe with our Saturday Night Lights program, is helping keep them in a safe space and using existing school buildings to do so. Our schools are important, and we are clear that every zip code, every block, every neighborhood, every child should have an opportunity, regardless of their background, regardless of the language they speak, regardless of which culture they have.
And we know the challenge we're facing this year in particular. We're dealing with thousands of students that are part of the migrant and asylum seekers. The chancellor did not sit back and wait. His team spent the entire summer making sure that we can make some of the technical changes within the department, the New York City public schools, to provide the proper instruction, education, language possibilities and translation, all of those services we took into account throughout this entire summer. We did not wait and become reactionary; we spent the summer being proactive, and the results will speak for itself. So, again, thank you, Deputy Mayor Banks, and I look forward to engaging in a lively briefing with the press and with the community. Thank you very much.
Deputy Mayor Banks: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Next, we're going to hear from the chancellor of the Department of Education. So, David, welcome. I think that you're going to be talking a little bit about technology, right, to increase the security in our schools; also, about students' well-being. I know that the school year is about to open up. It was the worst time of the year for me, that particular time, as I had to go back to school. But I know that's a big, big, a big deal for the Department of Education. So you know, shoot, tell us about it.
Chancellor David Banks, Department of Education: I love getting ready for the school year. I love it as the school year opens up. As kids come off the summer, there's always a certain level of angst as everyone comes off the summer, and that's a level of angst for kids as well as their families. But it is the beginning of the end of summer and the beginning of the fall season, and we are ready.
I'm really excited to be in this position as chancellor. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, again, for your belief in me to be the leader of the New York City public school system, the largest school system in the nation. It has been a real honor for me to serve in this role. And I think the best days for our school system are absolutely in front of us. I'm filled with a level of excitement.
But I will tell you that, you know, one of… Parents and their kids, and they expect two things in particular: one, their child is going to be safe, and that secondly, their child is going to learn to read, because reading is the gateway then for all the other subject areas including math and science. If you don't learn to read, it's very difficult for you to achieve a level of success in any of the other core subject areas as well.
And next week we'll be having a press conference, together with my entire senior leadership team right before we open our schools, where we're going to delve into all of these issues as we're getting prepared to open up the school year. But today I want to really, wanted to talk a little bit about safety and our safety preparedness for all of our schools. I'm so thrilled, the partnership I have with the NYPD and the police commissioner, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell to now Police Commissioner Caban. Commissioner Caban and I speak on a regular basis, and that was not always the case in prior administrations.
Police Department and New York City Public Schools oftentimes operated in silos, both trying to do good work. But we recognize in this administration, as the Mayor has said from the beginning, the alignment of our values and our efforts are you optimize the work when you're working together. And so Commissioner Caban and I speak on a regular basis. In fact, just yesterday, the commissioner hosted my entire senior leadership team for a two hour tour at the New York City Police Academy's training center, which if you've never visited, we should create a moment for them to see it. It is an amazing facility, and it is a world class gold standard operation for how you prepare New York City police officers.
In fact, it has served as an inspiration for me to create a similar type of facility in New York City public schools. We do not have one particular facility where we train all of our teachers and our paras and all of our school aides and all our workers. We train them over a wide range of facilities. And so that facility serves as an inspiration. That's the reason we did the visit yesterday. We had members with us from the School Construction Authority as well. But the highlight of the visit for me was as we went into several different rooms and we met the recruits who were coming on the NYPD, who were getting ready to come on with the new class of school safety agents. And I asked a simple question: how many of you are actually graduates of the New York City public schools? And I'd say in each room I went to, well over 90 percent of their hands went up.
And I just looked at our team and I said, these are our kids. These are our kids. These are the folks that we worked with in third grade, eighth grade, tenth grade, who eventually when we say, these are our kids, really represent our future and to see them now moving into these kinds of positions is really important, and it was inspiring for me to see that. And I saw at least three young men from the Eagle Academy. And those of you who know, I helped to start the Eagle Academies. And the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice where I served as principal before the Eagle Academy. And to see some of my students from those schools in these programs now getting ready to come out and provide safety for all of the residents of New York City was really, really just a highlight for me. So, commissioner, I want to thank you for hosting us, for being there with us yesterday and the work that we're going to do together.
The mayor had set out very early on that he wanted a deeper level of education between our school principals and the NYPD. And so during the last semester, the mayor convened a Zoom with every principal in New York City, over 1,800 principals, together with every commanding officer from the New York City Police Department who oversees a particular precinct. And together what we decided to do was there would be a weekly Zoom with the commanding officer of the precinct. Every commanding officer probably has anywhere from 25 to 35 schools in their command. Those folks ought to be talking to each other.
We are not trying to militarize our schools, and we're not doing that. We're not trying to overpolice our schools, and we're not doing that. But what we are doing at the behest of our mayor was to say enhance a level of communication so that the principals, when they are seeing things that are happening in their schools, if they're seeing other kids coming to their school trying to create problems after school, who do they alert? So, we can alert the commanding officer of the precinct, give them a heads up and they can help connect those dots. That enhanced level of communication has already shown, I think, a marked improvement during the last semester of the school year. And so very, very happy, we're going to continue to do that.
We're adding into that now the borough commanders will be meeting regularly with school superintendents, and so we're enhancing a deeper level of communication as well to fortify the gains that we've already made and to ensure that our kids are going to continue to be safe. So, that's one piece that we're doing. The other thing that we're really excited about and we've made a multimillion dollar level of investment in this is our door locking system. We have seen all across the nation these folks who have come into public schools and have created a level of violence where many of our young people have died. We continue to offer up our thoughts and prayers.
We want to make sure that we're doing everything in New York City to prevent that from ever happening here. And so as the mayor said, we're proud that we have not had that, knock on wood. But beyond knocking on wood, you've got to prepare, and you work hard and you communicate, and one of the things that we're doing is we're launching our door locking system. And so starting with this school year, which includes for us our phase one has over 722 schools. How many schools, Mark, do we have? 744, 744 elementary schools are part of our phase one work. We will be locking the front door of the schools after the students are already in the school. It's not meant to keep parents away; it's a door locking system, and it's a camera system.
So, after the school day has begun and that front door locks, anyone who shows up at the school will press the buzzer. They will be seen on camera by the school safety agent at the front door. They'll be able to communicate with them. They'll present their ID and the reason for them being there before we gain entry. The mayor and I visited a school in Queens last year where we had a young man who was released from a facility, and within moments of being released from that facility, entered into one of our schools. And were it not for the hard work of that school safety agent and the principal who together wrestled this person to the ground, he might have created all kinds of harms for our babies in that school. We want to prevent that from happening in the first place.
And so by this spring we will have completed this work for all of our elementary schools and then we'll begin the work for our middle schools and our high schools. But we certainly want to start with our youngest children first in doing that, and so that door locking system has taken place. We have a number of schools we've already put in place, but by the spring, we'll have completed the work for every elementary school in the city. But we also recognize that it's not just the work of the NYPD that guarantees the safety of our kids or our school safety agents. They all play a role. But we need our community to be actively involved and engaged, and so that's one of the reasons why last year we launched Project Pivot.
So, Project Pivot is now going from 144 schools from last year to 250 schools this year. These are schools that are in some of our highest need areas where we've seen the greatest uptick in violence. And we've gotten community based organization members. These are the folks who grew up in these communities, they know the communities, they know all the folks in the community to be involved. We've given them contracts to work with us in our schools, and the work that they're doing is a wide range, from tutoring to taking kids on trips, to providing safe passage to and from schools because last year, we were disturbed to see the uptick in the amount of weapons that have been brought to our schools.
But kids were not bringing these weapons to school to do damage to their classmates; they told us over and over, these weapons have been used to make sure that they can protect themselves to and from school. We don't want kids to have to bring weapons at all. We want them to feel safe at all times. The Project Pivot community-based community members are helping us to do that, and so we're very excited about that, our ability to expand on that work, to take a deeper dive on that work. We continue to learn each and every day in this work that we're doing.
And then finally, I would just say, as the mayor talks about the prevention. The mindful breathing work that we're doing. Many of our schools had already started that work because they understood the importance. Helping a young person understand how to center themselves is critically important. It's not just who's coming to break up the fight, or what disciplinary action will take place afterwards, but helping kids to develop the skills and ability inherently to know how to calm themselves down in the face of challenge and turmoil and sometimes confrontation.
And so we are working this year to ensure that every school in the city will have at least two to four minutes of mindful breathing for all of our students. It's not just a nice, cute thing to do. It is a lifelong skill that we want to see our schools get better at and develop over a period of time so that when they are faced with any level of trauma, they know how to take a deep breath and try to make better choices before they just react. And we feel very good about helping our schools to be able to do that.
So, there are a host of things that we're doing. We'll talk more next week at the press conference that we'll do together with our entire leadership team. But we're really excited about the work for this school year, it marks the beginning of my second full year as chancellor. And I'm thrilled to work together with the police commissioner, together with the deputy mayor, who I know a little bit as well. And I think that all of this together enhances a level of communication which gives us the best chance to continue to be successful. Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Banks: Thank you. Thank you, chancellor. Okay, commissioner, how are you doing?
Police Commissioner Edward Caban: I'm doing good.
Deputy Mayor Banks: Very good. I know that we're going to talk a little bit about the recap of the summer, right? I know that it was, from a violence perspective we are really heading in the right direction, like a lot, a lot of progress. You've been there since the beginning. Labor Day weekend coming up, so we know we've got, J'Ouvert's always a challenge and the West Indian Day Parade and of course, you're going to talk a little bit about your partnership with the DOE, so.
Commissioner Caban: Mmm. So, good morning, everyone. Thank you for having me. I want to echo the chancellor's sentiments and thank you for your continued partnership. It's truly remarkable what we're doing right now, David. I appreciate everything you've done and what your team has done.
And what we're seeing with the arrival of the school year and the conclusion of the summer, we're seeing it coinciding with the continued reduction in violence in New York City. Since our summer deployment plan went into place at the beginning of May, shooting incidents across the five boroughs are down 26 percent, which means there were 135 fewer shootings compared to the same period last summer. The result is 193 fewer people struck by gunfire this summer. We also continue to see declines in murders. So far this year, we had 27 fewer murders citywide.
When I look at it, these trends should come as no surprise to anyone. Your NYPD officers are out there day and night going toward danger, holding those willing to pull triggers accountable. So far this year, we've taken over 3,000 guns and we've made over 3,000 gun arrests in New York City this year alone. And this weekend, as the city gears up to celebrate J'Ouvert, the NYPD will be doing the same. In the name of public safety we will not let up. There will be thousands of officers deployed in and around the West Indian American Day Parade route. As I mentioned yesterday, we want everyone to come out and enjoy themselves and have a wonderful time.
The reduction in violence that we're seeing as the summer draws to a close is an excellent backdrop to the start of the school year. My team and I are in regular communication with Chancellor Banks and his managers. This coordination continues throughout our organizations, between my commanding officers, his school principals. We share information about corridors that have historically presented challenges, and we'll be out there to ensure that there are no issues. We also discuss congregation points where kids like to hang out, and we'll have a strong presence in those places as well from our patrol officers to our youth coordination officers, our school safety agents; and of course, our school crossing guards. We have a big and dedicated team looking out for our kids.
We'll also have increased presence in our transit system, keeping watch over our students as they travel to and from school. NYPD is also paying close attention to crimes involving kids. We will look to see if there's a nexus between larger crime patterns, a connection of acts of domestic violence, or even truancy at school. At the end of the day, the goal is always to protect our children, creating an environment where they can learn in safety and peace. And to that end, I want to express my gratitude and respect for our school safety agents. They are our everyday heroes doing the important work in the schoolyards, in the corners. They are building trust, cultivating relationships and easing tensions before things escalate.
And as always, technology is key for everything we do, which is why we're working on creating a tip line that will allow folks to share information that we should be aware of regarding schools and the kids. It's being built out and it will be up and running this fall. And also our school safety division is also launching a command center in the coming months. It will be an information hub that coordinates all the resources dedicated to the safety of our schools. All in all, as the school year kicks off, we feel very good about the comprehensive plan that we have in place to ensure the protection of New York City's most precious gifts, our children. Thank you very much, deputy mayor.
Chancellor Banks: One final point I do want to add, deputy mayor, if you don't mind, just a point of information. Prior to the pandemic we had 5,063 school safety agents. When we came in as this administration, we were down about 2,000 agents over the course of the pandemic. We have cut that number in half.
So, we are up to about 4,100 agents now with another 250 that are going into the next class in October. So, we'll continue to boost the ranks, if you will. For those of you, some of you know that I used to be a school safety agent. I worked at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn prior to becoming a teacher. Probably the first chancellor in history that was a school safety agent.
And it was a point of great pride for me and I understand the great work that they do and that they are an essential component to the culture of any successful school because they do more than provide safety. They are big brothers, they are big sisters, they are aunties and uncles for many of the kids who are in those schools, and they're central to everything that we do. And I have great, great respect for each and every one of them.
Deputy Mayor Banks: I just want to just reiterate. You know, I had a compliment. The commissioner had made a comment to the public, and he says, I've been working with you for 20 years, I've never heard you ever give out a compliment.
And so I started thinking about it, maybe… He probably hasn't heard it because I probably didn't do it. But I was part of the merger of the school safety agents. And there's a lot, a lot of heroes in New York City, but I put the school safety agents up there with anyone. The amount of work that they do that's remarkable. It's just the challenge they face every day.
So, I just wanted the school safety agents out there to hear from the mayor and to the leadership of New York City. If nobody else appreciates you, which I know they do, we certainly appreciate you, and I just want to say hats off and good luck to a very successful year.
Mayor Adams: And I think, deputy mayor, if you recall, on the campaign trail there were many who were calling about removing school safety agents from school. And I was very clear that was not going to happen if I was the mayor of the City of New York. And we did, approximately, I think anywhere from 12 to 13 town halls with young people. And the young people, there were two top issues at every town hall: they wanted their school safety agents and police and they wanted to deal with mental health issues. Every town hall we attended with young people across the city with DYCD and A.T. Mitchell from Man Up!, they talked about the relationships with their police and the relationships with their school safety agents. So, sometimes those who speak the loudest are speaking for themselves and not those who are impacted by these decisions. Those young people want to feel safe in their school, and that is what we're providing for them.
Question: Yes. Good morning, gentlemen. And for Chancellor Brooks…
Chancellor Banks: Banks.
Question: Banks, I'm sorry. You were talking about safe passage and corridors. So, how will these safety corridors be set up, because there have been incidents of violence and several incidents of gang violence around schools in the Bronx and I believe Staten Island. So, how will that work and how many will there be? Is that sort of a formal process?
Chancellor Banks: Well, and the police commissioner can certainly speak to this as well. But this has been part of our communication efforts to target these very specific neighborhoods, because this is not something that we're finding is happening in every school or every school community for sure.
But where we have seen the highest rates of those incidents there will be a beefed up presence, but also those are the places where we're doubling down on our Project Pivot workers as well to ensure a greater safe corridor to and from school.
But what we're also doing is we're reaching out now to more of our parents and our families, because we want the community to recognize as well that safety is not just a job of the police department or the school safety agents, it is a community responsibility, and so we want our parents and our families to also be out there.
When you have schools where you have parents who not only drop off their child but will take an extra few minutes to just be around. Their presence alone is a deterrence for nonsense, if you will. And so we've identified a number of these schools, and we've been working with the principals as well to begin to drive down those incidents.
Question: How many schools?
Chancellor Banks: I don't have the number off the top. We can certainly furnish that with you, Mark, the specifics off of those. But suffice it to say that it's the schools that we have seen where these great number of incidents have taken place, and we're going to be leaning in in a much more focused way this year as well.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on the use of drones to monitor activities in J'ouvert and the coming Labor Day weekend. I believe the PD said yesterday that they're going to be sending them, in some cases, to like barbecues or home parties. What would you say to people who feel like that's a little more intrusive than, you know, the police normally operates and you know, as opposed to a helicopter these drones could be very close to hear what people are talking about, wonder if you could address that.
Mayor Adams: Yes, thank you. And we have to push back on the sci-fi aspects of drones. No one is going to be out monitoring what you're talking about, your conversation. There were two occasions that I was just extremely impressed and really knew we were on the right thing using drones: one was at the Washington Square Park after the Pride parade. The park was… Just reached a point of being just disorderly and dangerous. The commissioner's team made the decision to deploy the drones and made a simple announcement that the park is closing, you have to leave the park. And watching that park just clear out, it was just so impressive that I knew we were on to something.
The second time… We police this city from the ground, not three dimensional from the sky. And we did not know what was going on ahead of time. The Washington Square… The Union Square Park, when you saw the young people, several thousand took over the park, my team was here watching the activity live while the chief was on the ground with his team. The commissioner was able to see it remotely, we were able to see it remotely. And we had a view that the responding units did not have, and we were able, in real time, to communicate with them where the problem spots were, what we had to do, how we had to close down the streets, how we were able to see where dangerous places were.
It was unbelievable. You know, in my entire career of being around law enforcement, never did I experience that level of firsthand, on the ground… I didn't have to guess what was taking place. I was able to immediately communicate with the chief and his team, and my team here and the commissioner, we were able to execute. So, what we're doing over this weekend, there are a number of calls of loud music, disruptive behavior. Instead of the police having to respond and look at those, they're going to utilize drones from a safe distance up, not down, flying into someone's backyard to see what someone has on the grill. They're going to utilize the drone to determine should they send crisis management teams there right away to help mitigate the problem.
We don't want police to be the only response. We were very clear. I think the chief made it clear we want our people to enjoy the festivities that come with the West Indian Parade and J'Ouvert, and so we want to utilize this technology to complement our crisis management team, complement our police personnel and respond appropriately and be able to respond in record time.
You know, a drone can get to a location in 30, 40 seconds, where we're going to have crowded streets, where police are not going to be able to get there as fast. This is a smart, excellent tool, and I really take my hat off to the police commissioner and how his team, particularly Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry. They traveled around the country, looked at other police departments, and unfortunately, we were not leading. We are now going to become the leader in how to properly use drones. Commissioner, I don't know if I touched on anything, if there's anything you want to touch on it.
Police Commissioner Caban: Absolutely. It's been a wonderful thing. Everybody, like the mayor said, is worried about sci-fi. We're using these drones as an extra resource, a force multiplier where instances like J'ouvert, we have our 311 calls and they're complaining about noise. We can deploy the drones to see, hey, just might be people having a nice early party. We don't have to deploy so many resources. We can have one officer go over there with partners, with DOE, go over to check our sound meters and say, you know what? It's perfectly fine, and we'll go about our business and they can enjoy their night.
Deputy Mayor Banks: I just want to reiterate one thing, and it's for the public, about the use of drones and the mayor's push for technology. Right? It's going to complement the services. We're looking at drones now that can… When people are having a heart attack, if the drone can get there before, right? Not instead of, but before a responding EMT and can give some advice to the person who is the non ill person, why would we not explore it?
So, there's a lot of exploration going on. We don't need to be afraid of the unknown, though it may be a little bit of human nature. But we're trying to keep the city as safe, as fair as possible and you're going to see a lot of those particular things at the mayor's direction.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. I was wondering if maybe you and the chancellor can give the public an update on the negotiations with the school bus workers union over a potential strike and maybe walk us through a little bit, in the event of a strike, how does that process work for parents if they want to book an Uber. How do they get reimbursed.
Mayor Adams: The chancellor will give you an update. You know, something is always happening in this city.
I woke up the other day and I heard that a water main break… You know, I mean, this city, you know, this is an amazing place. And the ferry, we're settling the ferry contracts, settling over 80 percent of our union contracts, having 90 something percent ratification on all of these contracts. People knew we paid them the right salaries.
We want to do what's right by our bus operators. They are moving our children to and from. This is, you know, it's another day in the city and another incident, issue, that we will come to a resolution. The resiliency of this city, it always amazes me. But I know the chancellor, he briefed me this morning he's deep in this issue with the ATU and the vendors. And so you know, you could give them an update on what…
Chancellor Banks: Sure. Yes. Well, first of all I think it's very important to note that we are not the direct party involved here. What you have is the union, the ATU Local 1181, is in negotiations with the various bus vendors; we contract with those vendors, and so the negotiations are essentially between them.
We're at the table. We're trying to be as helpful as we can possibly be. I'm still hopeful that we will be able to avert a strike, but in the event that there is a strike, we have already sent out guidance to our families across the city. Those who will be providing Metro cards for anyone, including for the families as well, so for the students and families.
We should know that what we're talking about with this particular strike affects, could potentially affect anywhere from 85 to 90,000 students, including about 25,000 students with special needs. And these are generally our younger students. This is not really affecting high school kids, so these are our younger students.
And you should know as well that these numbers are inclusive of about 25,000 students who are in charter schools as well. So, there's not just simply the students who were in our traditional public schools, it's all of our students. So we're making available rideshare opportunities for families, including possibilities for families who will drop their child off to school and then have a rideshare that will actually get them to work and back. We're sorting out the details of who will get that because we can't offer that to everyone. But suffice it to say every family will at least have some form of ability to get to and from school with their child.
That being said, it is going to be a challenge. Any time you have a strike, it will be a challenge and it will be a major, major inconvenience for all of our kids and their families. So, we're doing everything we can to avert it. We'll be talking more about the specifics on it when we have the press conference next week.
Mayor Adams: Chancellor, can you… What many people don't realize, bussing is a service we provide. You know, not a mandate. We provide this because we believe it's the right thing to do for our children and we're going to continue to do that.
Chancellor Banks: Absolutely, yes. And the bussing is something that we will continue to do, including… We provide these opportunities even for charter school students as well, which some people are a little surprised to hear. But that is, we look, these are all of our kids and all of their families, and we're doing everything we can.
The same way that we provide food for all of our kids whether they're in traditional public schools or charter schools, if anyone who wants it. So, for any child and family even in charter schools who are looking for these opportunities for transportation, we're doing what we can to provide that as well.
One of the challenges that we have is a longstanding challenge is that we don't always have enough bus drivers, and that contributes to some of the ongoing challenges that we face with bussing, even in the best of times. And that's why the union is working for the best contract that they can possibly get to help with the overall recruitment and retention of drivers, but this all has to happen within the fiscal constraints that we all are dealing with. So, continuing to be at this. They're working around the clock, and we're certainly hopeful for a good outcome.
Moderator: Thank you. Earlier this week, the administration reached out to New Yorkers asking them to submit questions for the officials joining us here today. Since we're running up on time, I'll ask two of them quickly. First one from Ashley in Manhattan for Chancellor Banks, who asks, what steps are being put in place to make sure our children are safe from bullying?
Chancellor Banks: Safe from bullying. You know, bullying, it's a manifestation oftentimes of culture within a school itself. I was a principal of two different schools over the course of 11 years. And you can have all kinds of mandates from New York City Department of Education, but at the end of the day, what matters most is what happens within the four walls of that school, and the tone that is set and the culture that is established by the leadership in the school.
And that's where we will be working very closely, and we continue to do that. We have specific things that we do when kids are bullied, and there are disciplinary repercussions as a result of that.
But I think if you take a macro view of it, kids need to know, things like bullying are not acceptable in that school. And schools that are well run, that have teachers who are in full alignment and a staff that works really closely with the parents and the families, they keep issues like bullying to a minimum because they establish a culture of love and togetherness and a spirit of oneness in a school.
And so that's what we will work to continue to support. No child should ever feel… Should ever be bullied or should ever feel intimidated at all. But we also recognize that sometimes kids themselves can be cruel, and we have to help the kids who are doing the bullying to understand that that is not acceptable and that they also have to make better choices. But all of that comes through the leadership and the culture that exists within individual schools, and we will continue to work to support that.
Moderator: Thank you. And the final question comes from Malik in the Bronx for Commissioner Caban who asked, how does the role of a school safety agent differ from a regular police officer?
Police Commissioner Caban: So, I think the role of a school safety agent is they're dedicated to the schools. They work closely with the Department of Education. They work closely with the kids, and that work is crucial to what they do each and every day.
Mayor Adams: You know, and before I depart, I want us all to remember, and particularly to the New York City public. January 1st, 2022, this public safety issue was a real crisis. And we came at it not haphazardly but with a plan.
No one wanted to be on the subway system because they were afraid. We came up with the Subway Safety Plan, partnered with the governor who allocated millions of dollars and appointed a real leader down in the subway system that continued in the past, and you're seeing record levels of decrease in crime.
We had an overproliferation of guns on our street, we put in place our Anti-Gun Unit, removal of probably a total of over 11,000 guns in my time in office, a little over 3,000 this year. It's targeted specifically at those who are carrying guns.
And during the summer, we normally spike in crime. As long as I can remember, over the summer months, it becomes a real problem where crime starts to spike. We saw just the opposite because of the commissioner's Summer Safety Plan. We saw crime do something that it historically does not do, and that is decrease.
But it was not only about enforcement. Adding to the Subway Safety Plan, we did the Summer Rising, 110,000 children were placed in safe environments full school day, able to provide a real safe atmosphere, adding to that 100,000 summer youth jobs, partnering with our crisis management team.
So, we did not get here looking at the success of children and families based on guesswork. We planned. And you saw the plan, we rolled it out. We announced it to all of you and we told everyone our expectation, and we were successful in the plans we put in place.
And this school year we are continuing that success by rolling out these new plans, because as I say over and over again, public safety and justice is the prerequisite to prosperity, and we're going to continue to be the safest big city in America. Thank you.