Security takes center stage as Detroit schools prepare to open

Aug 31, 2011

Detroit Public Schools, the city of Detroit, and several public safety agencies are launching what they call an “unprecedented, multi-agency” school safety initiative.

The initiative includes updated monitoring equipment; designated safe routes and patrols around three schools deemed “hot spots”; and monitoring social media sites for potential problems.

The city will also step up demolitions of vacant homes near schools.

Detroit schools’ emergency manager Roy Roberts told some skeptics that this safety program is different from others introduced in the past.

“I think you’re seeing something today that is totally different. You’re seeing our community coming together and saying, pretty clear: “We’ve had enough, we’re not gonna take it any more, and we’re gonna protect our kids.”

Detroit Police and Michigan State Police will help school police with dedicated patrols and even helicopters as necessary.

Asked whether some of the security measures went too far, Roberts said “I’d rather err on the side of having too much protection.”

Lawrence Williams is a student at Detroit’s Southwestern high school and leader of the group Youth Voice. He says the plans show good intentions, but more kids should have been involved in developing them.

“Because youth know how to protect youth, and youth know how to work with youth. So when you have a bunch of 40-year-olds sitting around the table saying ‘How are gonna protect the youth?’, it’s not gonna work.”

Williams acknowledges the social media monitoring might nip some problems in the bud. But he still doesn’t like it because he says it invades kids’ privacy.