As administrators from Birmingham Public Schools look to improve safety and security across the district, they're moving forward with local police departments at their side.
At the Tuesday night meeting of the Birmingham Board of Education, Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt and Beverly Hills police officer Lee Davis thanked school officials for helping them breathe a little easier.
“I’m very glad you’re taking these proactive steps,” said Davis, who also serves as the school liaison officer at Groves High School.
Both Studt and Davis spoke as part of a presentation by Superintendent Daniel Nerad and Deputy Superintendent Paul DeAnglis, during which they outlined the school district’s long-term plans for safety and security.
The conversation about school safety first began in mid-December, after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT. At the time, Nerad vowed to review Birmingham’s security policies, noting “We owe it to our children.”
In mid-January, Nerad announced that all school buildings would begin locking their front doors during the day. The district also stationed security guards at every building, though Nerad said that measure is only temporary while the district works out a long-term solution for school safety.
Police impressed during lockdown drills
Part of that review included working closely with local law enforcement not only in Birmingham but in Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Township, Troy and Franklin — cities and villages where Birmingham schools are located.
At the end of January, school officials met with police, who then joined principals during a series of lockdown drills across the district. As part of Nerad's proposed safety plan, all buildings will complete at least four lockdown drills this winter and spring, and would have to complete six a year beginning in the fall.
According to Studt, he was very impressed with both students and staff during the drills, noting that everything took the drill very seriously.
“I was very impressed with the speed at which a lockdown occurred once it was announced,” Studt said, who was present at every drill in Birmingham. “I think what you’re doing is very good.”
'In order to make a school safe, you have to monitor who's coming in'
Moving forward, both Studt and Davis said they supported the district’s efforts to improve safety, backing such plans like installing visitor notification systems and keeping front doors locked during the day.
For a closer look at the district’s long term security plans, visit School Safety Recommendations Include Visitor Notification Systems, More Lockdown Drills.
Studt said there’s no general rule for school safety across the board, noting there are as many plans as there are school districts.
“But I think locking all the doors and allowing entrance only at one door after the school day starts, that’s generally accepted everywhere,” Studt said. “In order to make a school safe, you have to monitor who’s coming in.”
“If a bad guy comes in, yeah, that’s terrible,” he added. “But at least you know right away.”
Studt said that Birmingham is currently a member of an Oakland County tactical training consortium and if an incident occurred at a school, the response would be a coordinated effort of that city’s police department as well as police from surrounding communities as well.
“If an incident happens at Seaholm, you’re going to get cops from all over the place,” he said.
At several points during the evening, school officials and even parents asked whether Birmingham had gone too far already, specifically in hiring the security guards. Davis told the school board that yes, the students complain — but they also recognize why the guards there.
“They see what’s going on and I’ll tell you what, they’re appreciative,” Davis said. “They do complain, but that’s their job. … They know stuff’s gotta change.”
- School Safety Recommendations Include Visitor Notification Systems, More Lockdown Drills
- Birmingham Schools to Implement New Security Policies Starting Tuesday
- Teachers Taught How to React During a School Shooting Scenario
- Birmingham Schools Will Start Locking Front Doors During the Day
- 'We Owe It to Our Children': Birmingham Superintendent Vows to Review Safety Rules
- Birmingham Schools to Increase Security Monday After Connecticut Shooting