Francis Lewis Retains an NYPD Officer on Campus


Recent headlines of the tragic Florida shooting have caused uproar for students at Francis Lewis High School following the transfer of the only NYPD officer in the building. However, the DOE has reversed their position as Francis Lewis has attained a new officer.

“If it had not gotten in the paper, if we had not gotten the petition, if people didn’t voice their opinion, then we would have lost our officer,” PTA President Linda Lovett said.

Given that Francis Lewis High School is home to more than 4,000 students, the question of safety in an overcrowded building has swarmed throughout the school. The transfer of the officer even reached national news as PTA President Linda Lovett and SO President Shir Levy have caught the attention of organizations such as Fox news.

“When they asked me on Fox, ‘So what do you want?’ I said, ‘Well I want my school to get their officer back’, and that’s what they did,” Lovett stated.

Francis Lewis High School was the last school to have an official officer removed, following Bayside and Cardozo High School.  However, the events of the Parkland shooting had no correlation to the removal of the NYPD officer, just a case of bad timing. Officer Raul Espinet had requested a transfer, which was granted.  

“He transferred to a unit that does background checks for new recruits,” Principal Dr. Marmor said. “Officer Espinet was officially transferred and wasn’t removed.”

Students, faculty, concerned parents, and a hopeful community signed a petition to have an officer return to Francis Lewis.

“I signed a petition hoping that we would get him back,” senior Anthony O’Hara said. “I just hope he could bring back a sense of security to all students, to the city.”

The fuel of the petition arose from recent debates about gun control amidst the Parkland shooting, and for those fearing the lives of loved ones. 

“They’re talking about arming teachers in the country and New York City is actually getting rid of officers they had in their schools,” Lovett passionately stated.  “Within two days we had 1000 signatures.”

Francis Lewis falls in the 111th precinct, which dictates the officers that protect our school. The neighborhood policing program (NCO) ensures safety to communities, decreasing crime rates, and acting as a barrier from any form of violence. A new commanding officer was recently instated and then made it a top priority to ensure that Francis Lewis was able to get back an officer.

“April 1 was intended to be the date of the beginning of the new NCO program, and we were told that there was a changeover in the 111th precinct,” Dr. Marmor said.  “The [new] commanding officer of the 111th told us that he had every intention to replace the officer.”

Some students, however, remain skeptical of the true safety that an officer can bring to an overcrowded school.

“One officer wouldn’t make a difference in a 5,000 student school,” senior Mohib Mihrabizada said. “Students [should] treat each other with more respect.”

The news of the return of an officer has made others elated, but this does not stop the protection that Francis Lewis vows to ensure.

“I think the school is already trying to do everything they can, working with the city and also with themselves [and] with policy,” Levy said. “Being serious about it is very important.”

Lovett emphasizes the extreme lengths that administration goes through in the wake of a lock down procedure.

“They go through and try every door to make sure it’s locked,” Lovett said. “They look in to see if they can see the kids. Next year, [Dr. Marmor] would like to have a physical body at every door.”

Francis Lewis is expecting to welcome the arrival of a new officer within the next two weeks. Cardozo and Bayside High School are expecting to see change, largely due to the fact that they are overcrowded high schools as well.

“There’s no need for hate,” O’Hara said. “We as a community, as a family, as a student, as a school, we [can] come together.”

Inquiring Photographer: 

Should we have an armed police officer permanently assigned to our school?