Perhaps even more than other big cities, Detroit has suffered from our nation’s recent economic problems. It’s gotten so bad that next month the city’s school district will close more than a quarter–172–of its campuses to help close a $219 million budget deficit. Student enrollment has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past seven years.
But still the city wants to keep its kids safe at school. Last year the voters of Detroit passed a bond measure that included $41.7 million for campus security enhancements. Those include…
By next fall, each high school will have 100 new security cameras; there will be 32 in middle schools and elementary schools will get 24 cameras each. There will be cameras in hallways, gyms, parking lots, and even storage closets.
Also the district will issue ID badges to all high school students and faculty. This will help to monitor attendance and keep unwanted visitors off campuses.
This was a bold step for the city and I commend its citizens and school administrators for putting their children first. There are many other cities–large and small–that haven’t stepped up to the plate as Detroit has done.
My biggest concern is that the district still has enough money to maintain this major investment. Too many times, I have seen cities and school districts install security equipment, but then fail to properly maintain it. Soon the equipment will begin to fail and the money is wasted. I hope that doesn’t happen in Detroit, because this plan has a good chance to make the city’s schools safer for its students, staff, and faculty.
If you are working in a district that’s considering adding or upgrading security equipment, be sure to get a maintenance agreement with an experienced system integrator. It’s really not much different than taking your car to the mechanic for regular checkups.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.