Police Takeover of N.Y.C. District Security Is Urged

By Peter Schmidt — June 07, 1995 2 min read

The security chief of the New York City school system resigned last week and recommended that city police take over the functions of his scandal-plagued division.

Citing recent allegations of misconduct against several school security guards, Zachary Tumin, the division’s director, said he was stepping down to make it easier to put school security under the control of the New York Police Department.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has called for the same change, welcomed Mr. Tumin’s assessment. The mayor disagreed, however, with the director’s contention that the division’s problems were due to a lack of money and staff, and instead blamed mismanagement for its troubles.

The police department would offer schools “a far more efficient, and effective, security force,” Mr. Giuliani said in a statement last week. “The simple truth is that, under the N.Y.P.D., candidates for school safety officers will be better screened, better trained, and better utilized.”

But Schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines called Mr. Tumin’s proposal “quite peculiar” and said the security chief had expressed much different views when they spoke the week before.

“It is hard to understand Mr. Tumin’s reversal of heart; it seems, in reality, to be a smokescreen for a lack of leadership and accountability that seemed to have prevailed in the division,” Mr. Cortines said in a statement.

The chancellor also noted that only the school board has the authority to make such a change, which both he and the board president, Carol A. Gresser, oppose.

Series of Scandals

Last week’s flap occurred the day after police arrested Roberto Gomez, a 33-year-old security guard at the Newtown High School Annex in Queens, on charges stemming from his alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student.

In the previous week, a school security guard was accused of raping a Queens woman, and another guard was charged with possessing a marijuana-filled pi¤ata~~~~ ~shipped from Grenada.

Mr. Cortines had been preparing to suspend Mr. Tumin for 10 days in response to the charges. In a letter announcing that decision, he had said he was particularly troubled because the division took several days to respond to allegations that Mr. Gomez was having sexual relations with a student.

Mr. Cortines also faulted Mr. Tumin for failing to do enough to improve the training of his division’s 3,000 security officers.

Mr. Tumin attributed the division’s troubles to the fact that the district does not provide money for enough supervisors, causing a loss of administrative control.

A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 1995 edition of Education Week as Police Takeover of N.Y.C. District Security Is Urged