YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Less than a week after a 17-year-old boy armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire at Santa Fe High School, killing 10 people in what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called “one of the most heinous attacks that we’ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools,” the Town Board endorsed three Senate bills designed to bolster school security.
The board’s meeting on Tuesday, May 22, began as usual with a request by Supervisor Ilan Gilbert for a pause to honor emergency responders and U.S. troops, but with an addendum. Referring to what happened in Santa Fe only five days prior, Gilbert said, “Once again we are grieving as a nation for another shooting at another school, and I would ask for a moment of silence.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Councilman Tom Diana read for the record a proposed resolution stating town officials’ “paramount concern”: “protecting our children while they are in our schools.”
To that end, the resolution addresses bills sponsored by Sens. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) and Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma) that were passed in March by the state Senate.
Murphy’s bill, S7813A, “defines school shootings as terrorism,” the resolution states, enabling authorities to charge a shooting suspect with committing an act of terrorism if they discharge a firearm with 1,000 feet of a school, a place of worship, a business or any gathering of 25 people or more. It also codifies the operations of the New York State Intelligence Center, which would be responsible for the collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, sharing and maintenance of intelligence information to facilitate the detection, prevention and investigation of such incidents. The center would, furthermore, cooperate with the state Division of Homeland Security in an effort to increase information-sharing and analysis capabilities.
Gallivan’s bills, S7811A and S7810A, meanwhile, would expand the definition of “School Resource Officer” (SRO) to include a retired police officer, deputy sheriff and state trooper, along with those on active duty, and enable school districts to receive state funding to hire SROs or pay for security services secured through municipal entities. It would also authorize SROs to be armed while on duty, provided they are licensed.
The bills have been sent to the Assembly. The resolution, which was unanimously approved by the board and is being forwarded to Murphy and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R-Mahopac), urges “their passage and enactment as expeditiously as possible.”