WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – We saw it after the Oxford High School Shooting, and it’s happening again.
The immediate response to Tuesday’s (May 24) tragedy has been increased police patrols at local schools. The proactive measures don’t end there.
This fall, Wyandotte Public Schools will have two safety officers. Wyandotte police hired a detective and an officer to work at the district specifically; one will be stationed at the middle school, the other at the high school, but they will be responsible for all 10 school buildings.
“These are teachers they should be teaching,” said Wyandotte Police Deputy Chief Archie Hamilton. “They shouldn’t be concerned about active shooters or dangerous situations. That’s not what they signed up for.”
Hamilton knows two officers are not enough for the more than 5,000 students in the district and staff, but he says funding is limiting.
“The reason why a lot of schools don’t have police officers is simply because of the funding,” Hamilton said. “The funding has to come from somewhere. Right now, how we handle it here is the school has that police officer for nine months out of the year, essentially. So they (school district) pay for about 75% of the salary for that police officer.”
Hamilton encourages people to reach out to their lawmakers about getting more funding to schools for safety officers.
Taylor Public Schools has one resource officer for its district; This summer, they will install a Bluetooth safety alert lockdown System called SmartBoot to add another layer of security.
Michele Marshall, the school district’s Director of Safety, said the system not only barricades the door, withstanding 16,000 pounds of force once engaged but will also alert staff and police.
“Whatever emergency there might be, that will cut seconds down from the teacher calling the office, the office calling the police department, it will be like, you know, simultaneously,” said Marshall.
It’s a 1.7 million dollar investment, but Marshall said it is worth it.
“I know that we’re in the education business, however, if students aren’t safe and if they’re afraid, they’re not getting educated.”
TPS will also update current computer systems this summer.
“We’ll be able to see directly on computers who’s coming to the building, what are they coming for, we’ll be able to know what their responses are to the secretary before they even enter,” Marshall said.
TPS also launched a new anonymous reporting system this school year for bullying, threats, harassing, etc.
Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington said while they don’t provide school resource officers, they do offer active shooter training to churches and schools. Since the shooting at Oxford High School, they have seen a spike in requests.
“As they should, these things are happening, they happened right here in our area, Southeast Michigan, and we are seeing a shift and seeing people wanting to know what should they do in the vent that something happens,” said Washington.
Washington also mentioned they work closely with police departments during major events to make sure the community is safe.