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Weapons Seizures Way Up In NYC Schools; Councilman Says City Is Dropping Ball

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There has been a startling increase in the number of weapons that students are getting inside schools.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the City Council is pressing the NYPD for solutions after a teenager was killed in a classroom.

"We have seen an increase in weapons and we certainly acknowledge that," NYPD School Safety Chief Brian Conroy said at a hearing Tuesday.

Weapons in New York City schools have always been a concern, but Conroy's City Council testimony took on added significance after two students were stabbed – one fatally – at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation.

Conroy was forced to admit that this school year has seen a dramatic 35 percent increase in the number of weapons seized by safety officers – 746 from July 1 to Nov. 12, compared with 552 for the same period last year.

Kramer: "Does that increase of a third concern you at all?"

Conroy: "We obviously take the recovery of weapons seriously."

Conroy also admitted that not all weapons seizures resulted in students being arrested. Box cutters, for instance, did not.

Kramer: "But if they're knives and box cutters, nothing happens to them? You don't bring charges? They're not arrested?"

Conroy: "It would depend on the type of knife."

Kramer had a lot of question for Conroy, and Bronx City Councilman James Vacca (D-13th) did too. He was furious that complaints from parents and students that the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation was unsafe were ignored – at least before Abel Cedeno allegedly stabbed 15-year-old Matthew McCree to death and critically injured 16-year-old Ariane Laboy on Sept. 27.

Cedeno faces manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon charges. Defense attorneys say Cedeno snapped after years of alleged bullying.

"The parents and the students in this building were crying out for help based on the surveys they filled out, and no one listened," Vacca said.

Kramer asked Conroy about Vacca's remarks, but Department of Education officials were having none of it and left.

"One more question -- Councilman Vacca, Councilman Vacca was concerned – really? You're going to run away from us? You're really running away?" Kramer said as Conroy and other officials left. "Councilman Vacca was concerned about what happened at Wildlife, and the fact that some of the complaints of the teachers and students…."

"Marcia, we just answered your questions. If you have any follow-ups, please let me know," said DOE Press Secretary Toya Holness.

"You didn't answer this question. You did not answer the question. What's the problem with responding to that, sir? Why was the complaints of students and parents at Wildlife not taken into consideration?" Kramer said.

Vacca said the question needs an answer.

"The ball was dropped in the case of the Wildlife Conservation school, and I wonder if the ball is being dropped elsewhere," Vacca said.

Metal detectors were wheeled into the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation the day after the stabbings. Vacca said the city should be more proactive, not reactive.

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