Detroit Public Schools to improve safety, save $4.5 million through new contract for school security

Detroit Public Schools estimates the district will save more than $4.5 million annually through a new one-year contract being executed with Securitas that is expected to improve safety in all schools and radically reduce absenteeism among security personnel.

The new contract goes hand-in-hand with a $41.7 million safety and security initiative for the school system.

DPS was paying about $11 million for DPS security officers. The contract for Securitas will be approximately $6.5 million.

Reports showed that the district’s security officers, who were terminated effective July 30, were absent 11 to 12 percent on average daily. On July 28, 37 – 16 percent of security officers — were absent. On July 30, 31 — nearly 14 percent of all security officers — were absent.

“Improving safety in our schools is the number one priority for many parents, but we have faced an enormous challenge because of the persistent absenteeism of our school-based security officers,” said Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb.

“It’s been difficult to secure our buildings and hold principals accountable for the safety of students when security officers are not showing up to work. Our new contract with Securitas will not only save the district millions of dollars but will, most importantly, improve the safety of our students and staff by allowing us to hold these new security personnel accountable.”

The district, which previously employed 226 security officers, launched a pilot program with Securitas personnel at four high schools – Denby, Southeastern, Pershing and Mumford — in February and reported positive results.

The ratio of security personnel in schools will not change. The DPS Police officers are not impacted.

“The principals were all laudatory of the service and performance by Securitas during the pilot,” said DPS Inspector General Wilbert Van Marsh. “As a result of this expansion, we expect safety to improve districtwide as it did in the pilot schools. All of the Securitas personnel will receive training from the Office of Public Safety as to how to provide security in schools before the start of classes in September.”

The one-year contract with Securitas runs from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 with renewable options. Savings will come largely from health insurance costs.

Securitas school security personnel will receive training in safety awareness, report writing and procedures, emergency evacuation, emergency response, public relations, diversity and sexual harassment, hand-cuffing and physical contact, metal detectors and wand use, and book bag searches.

As part of the district’s $41.7 million safety and security plan, a new alarm and digital camera system is being installed. The system will significantly increase the level of detail in security monitoring throughout schools and will allow Detroit Public Schools police officers to remotely monitor school cameras via the Internet using new desktop computers.

High schools will get 100 cameras each, putting stairwells, hallways, parking lots, entrances, computer labs, storage closets, gyms, cafeterias, among other locations, under surveillance at all times. K-8 schools will get 32 cameras and elementary schools will get 24 cameras each. The systems include video surveillance, monitoring systems for the district’s police and a notification system tied to each school’s P.A., phone, bell and clock systems.

The district is also building a new $5.6 million Public Safety Headquarters and Operations Center, which will help transform policing capabilities and serve as the base of operations for the district-wide security system.

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