City Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who represents the 36th district encompassing the neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, on Wednesday introduced his first piece of legislation, “The Audible Alarms Bill.”
The bill would require all public schools have audible alarms installed on the exterior of all unguarded doors.
The bill is a response to two recent incidents where students wandered away from their school buildings unchaperoned: Four-year-old Symeir Talley-Jasper, who walked out of his preschool at William Floyd P.S. 59 in Bed-Stuy; and Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old boy whose body was found three months after he wandered away from his school in Queens.
“I believe that this bill will transform the Talley & Jasper families’ negative experience into a positive safety improvement for vulnerable public school students across New York City,” said Cornegy, “and I’m committed to fighting for its passage.”
The bill is asking the Department of Education, in consultation with NYPD, to install alarms that would sound in the office to alert school personnel when one of the doors is opened.
At approximately $150 per door, it’s a way to greatly improve safety across all schools at a very low cost, said Dynishal Gross, the legislative director.
“It’s a safety improvement that will prevent these kinds of incidents and increase the speed of which [school personnel] would be made aware of a missing child,” said Gross.
Cornegy is working to gain support for the bill with key councilmembers and also the chair of the safety committee. Once passed, the bill is written so that it would become effective 90 days after passage.
“It’s budget season, and we believe this is a reasonable expense that schools could accomplish in their existing budget,” said Gross. “But if not, we’ll be looking for allocation down the line.”