Statement on Parkland, Florida School Shooting

While our Village is primarily engaged in local municipal issues, it is hard not to react to the massacre that occurred last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.

On Valentines Day, just before dismissal time, 17 young lives were gunned down at the hands of a mentally ill individual armed with an extremely deadly automatic weapon. Many others were wounded, including one student who was shot 5 times while closing the door to a classroom in an effort to protect fellow students.

Classmates of the victims have shown a tremendous amount of courage in the past week, speaking out on news programs and demanding action from elected representatives at all levels of government.

As we saw with the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Sandy Hook, the arguments in Congress over common sense gun laws and addressing mental illness continue. But unfortunately, so far, there is only talk and no action.

It has been said that these issues of national debate have no place on the local level. We disagree. Local mayors, city councils and village boards are duty bound to do everything in their power to protect residents, and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns.

More than 1,000 local mayors have already taken the first step by signing a pledge entitled “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” by the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety. Here in Westchester County, mayors in Ardsley, Harrison, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, White Plains, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown have joined this non-partisan coalition. We ask Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond and Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita to consider doing the same.

We also believe more can be done in Tuckahoe and Eastchester through community policing, with our devoted officers establishing a rapport with students and school officials. This can be accomplished by periodically assigning officers to our schools, and increasing patrols. Our neighbors in Bronxville have already announced that they will undertake this initiative.

As a member of the Executive Board of the Waverly and Anne Hutchinson PTA, Sarah plans on discussing ongoing efforts to develop additional safety precautions so we can reduce the chances of our school community having to deal with any kind of violence near our schools. This includes greater support of mental health detection and services as well.

Our children are our most precious assets. This should not be framed as a partisan issue. There are good ideas on both sides of the proverbial political aisle and we welcome the assistance of the current Village Board of Trustees in working with us to keep our children as safe as we possibly can.

Omayra Andino and Sarah DeRise