Detroit Public Schools today announced a broad expansion of its citizen patrol programs to vastly expand Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school. The announcement included a Call to Action for hundreds of new volunteers to flesh out teams in 14 key geographic school areas.
The expanded citizen patrols, which are part of a comprehensive, multi-agency program that has helped already to spur a sharp reduction in incidents, is also one of the first initiatives to be implemented under Detroit Public Schools’ new comprehensive 5-year Strategic Plan. The multi-faceted plan includes strategies to increase market share by adding programs that parents desire such as Universal Pre-Kindergarten for eligible students, more Arts and Music in elementary and middle schools, improved customer service and safety initiatives, and endorsing new models such as Community Schools.
“The safety of our students and staff, not only while in school, but on their way to school, is a top priority for Detroit Public Schools,” said DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “We have worked diligently over the last few years to reduce crime in and around our schools. However, we recognize that we cannot do this on our own. The more support and engagement we have from the community, the safer we will be able to make our schools and the more likely parents will be to enroll their children in our 97 neighborhood-centered, quality schools throughout the city.”
The new volunteer network will build upon highly active men’s patrol groups now watching routes and bus stops near the Cody High School campus, where Brothers on Patrol has a presence, and the Osborn High campus, where MADE Men patrol. The M.A.N. Network also patrols around several DPS schools. The district also has a group of volunteers called the Parent and Community Academy, who wear yellow jackets and act as safety volunteers, monitoring youth traveling to and from school, in school hallways and lunch rooms, and around the school.
“As we continue to improve safety for our students in and around our campuses, we will also work hard to create safer routes to and from school by expanding our citizen patrol teams, giving students and parents a greater comfort level, and allowing students to focus more on academics,” said Detroit Public Schools Police Chief Roderick Grimes. “We hope Detroiters will answer this Call to Action for additional citizen volunteers to create a better, safer future for our youth.”
The sites for additional volunteer opportunities are:
- Osborn campus
- Cody campus
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High
- East English Village Preparatory High School
- J.R. King
- Fisher Upper
- Fisher Lower
- C.M.A (Communication and Media Arts)
Volunteer opportunities include any of the following:
- Walk your Block / Foot Patrol / “Walking School Buses”
- Vehicle Patrol, including Corporate Vehicle Patrols
- Bicycle Patrol
- Business Lookouts
Volunteers are being asked to commit to a year of patrolling during the following times: 7 a.m.-9 a.m. or 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. There is no minimum number of days required per week, but volunteers are asked to commit to at least one of the full-time slots.
To volunteer, call (313) 748-6008. Volunteers will be notified within 48 hours.
The trainings will be held every Tuesday and Thursday for two hours from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. during the month of August. Saturdays are available upon request. Trainings will be held at 8500 Cameron St. Detroit, 48211 (DPSPD Headquarters) and other sites to be named in the near future.
Residents are also being asked to turn on their porch lights in those immediate school neighborhoods and report any crime to the DPS Police Department at (313) 748-6000.
“Safe routes to and from school are vital to the survival of the school and community,” said Communication and Media Arts Principal Donya Odom. “With more citizens on patrols, this will be a reality for our students and allow them to better focus on their education, instead of worrying about their safety.”
The volunteer safety patrol initiative goes hand-in-hand with extensive safety enhancements DPS has initiated over the past three years, including a new $5.6 million 23,000-sq ft. state-of-the-art Command Center and Headquarters that opened in January 2011.
At the Command Center, DPS officers can monitor campuses 24-hours a day using high-tech video surveillance cameras and alarms. Schools are being updated with alarm and video surveillance packages throughout the interior and exterior that will be fed to video systems at the Command Center.
The opening of the new Command Center was launched in tandem with a complete restructuring of the DPS Police Department, which is its own deputized force, and a $41.7 million district-wide comprehensive security enhancement program designed to make all schools safer. Those enhancements included a new visitors ID badge system, requiring visitors at high schools, career technical schools and the District’s new Police Command Center to be put through on-the-spot sex-offender registry checks as part of a new security clearance system aimed at making campuses safer for students and staff.