Commentary: The Oregon School Tragedy as Viewed from New York

Born and raised on the streets of New York City, I had always thought of myself as a New Yorker through and through. But then at the age of twenty-nine, I was sent to Oregon for a few days as part of my job working for New York City mayor John V. Lindsay and my attraction to the state quickly became an obsession. Forty-seven years later and back in New York after living in Oregon on and off for more than four decades, when I hear Oregon mentioned on the national news, I stop in my tracks and my focus is entirely on what is being said – as it was today when I heard of the shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in the middle sized (by Oregon standards) community of Roseburg, Oregon, with a population of twenty-thousand. Once again I was an Oregonian and my community took precedence over all else going on around me. I am in large measure what New York made me yet there is enough remaining to make me an Oregonian too for Oregon is the place where I intend to return-someday.

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The Coming Of Age Of Private Security

I recently delivered back-to-back 90-minute lectures to three groups of New York City high school teachers on preventing violence from erupting in their classrooms. Amazed at the statistics regarding the size of the damage awards that have been paid out by the city arising out of negligent security claims against its public schools, the groups began to perceive the nature of the problem from a new perspective: that of a litigant.

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The Impact Of Violence On Public Education

In America’s major cities, public school buildings are regularly protected by detachments of school “police.” In New York City, the school security personnel are in fact employed and trained by the New York City Police Department’s School Safety Division under the command of an Assistant Chief Inspector. In Brooklyn, the District Attorney has set aside scarce resources to establish the School Advocacy Bureau, which is dedicated to dealing with the issue of school crime, and finding ways to work with the New York City Department of Education to combat school violence.

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