The NYPD is working to tighten security measures at city schools after a department official visited the site of the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Inspector Kevin Taylor, head of the NYPD’s School Safety Division, told The Post that several of his new initiatives were a direct result of his trip to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — “Parkland’s own ground zero” — where 14 students and three staff members were murdered 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz.
“My job is to ensure the safety of 1.1 million students — plus faculty — to protect them from anything that’s out there,” Taylor said after the trip, which lasted Aug. 2-7 .
“It means that in New York City we can’t afford to ever do anything wrong.”
The visit was particularly harrowing for Taylor, who oversees the more than 4,000 school safety officers and dozens of police officers who secure the nation’s largest public school district.
“Everything was still the same — the blood is still there,” Taylor said, referring to a building that survived as a crime scene. “No child – nobody – should ever go through that.”
Actions taken by the NYPD in the run-up to the new school year include installing new surveillance cameras and improving communications between police and the city’s Department of Education.
The department is also establishing a police-operated school security command center in Queens Plaza to provide 24-hour surveillance of the precinct’s 1,400 buildings — a plan that was in the works before the trip.
Taylor, who made the trip with two other officers, had been invited to the school by a group of Parkland families — including relatives of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed in the Feb. 14, 2018 Cruz attack and in the process also was injured another 17 people.
Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation in Alhadeff’s honor — the so-called “Alyssa Act” — that requires school districts to look into installing silent panic alarms that are directly linked to law enforcement.
“I had a privilege [to have] the families that hug me,” Taylor said. “Coming to Parkland…walking down those hallways, going into every classroom, listening to the parents. I have two children, I can’t imagine that they couldn’t be helped.”
Taylor said he returned from the taxpayer-funded tour with the intention of changing some of the city’s school safety measures.
First, he said he wants to increase communication between the DOE and the police, including by establishing an anonymous, student-only SMS alert line that Mayor Eric Adams has pushed for.
The new command center, due to open in the fall, will also strengthen the link between the two departments by handling everything related to the schools, Taylor said.
The 60 or so officers manning the building will be monitoring alarms, alarms, cameras and everything else going on in the buildings so there is “not an incident that we are not aware of,” Taylor said.
That will likely be helpful in a county that confiscated 21 firearms in the 2021-22 school year and 15 in the 2022-23 school year. Nearly 6,000 weapons, including tasers and knives, were also recovered last school year, according to the NYPD.
Taylor also said he wants to install new cameras and make sure the existing ones are pointed in the right direction.
“We need them in the right place… and not pointing at a tree,” said the inspector.
He asked the city to make about 300 more safety officers available to schools. And he wants to make sure the DOE locks all the doors at every school to stop intruders.
“That probably should have happened a long time ago,” Taylor said.
He said it will help fulfill the mission Adams and Police Commissioner Edward Caban gave him: keep children safe.
On Tuesday, Caban and other police officers met with School Chancellor David Banks to discuss next steps.
Neither City Hall nor the Department of Energy responded to requests for comment. But Taylor said the summit went well and will lead to more high-level meetings.
“We all want to ensure the safety of our children. And bottom line, we’re the best at it… NYPD is on guard,” the inspector said.
“Ultimately, we’re going to make schools safer than ever,” Taylor said. “We need to make sure the school is a safe haven. It’s what keeps me up at night.”