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Kids or criminals

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, recommends schools work with local law enforcement, and noted that while "technology can enhance our school safety procedures, it cannot be substituted for a reasonably well-trained and highly-alert staff."

Rochester has five school liaison officers serving all 21 of their schools. "In addition, we have contracted a security service at our three conventional high schools and our one non-conventional high school," Grein said.

Birmingham Schools has two school liaison officers, one at Seaholm High School, through the Birmingham Police Department, and one at Groves High School, through the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Grein said general duties for school liaison officers include assisting school administrators and staff with everything from monitoring the school grounds for safety and security hazards, weeding out prohibited activities and noticing behavioral concerns, recognizing unauthorized visitors, and watching for physical and conditional hazards. "The teams can also assist with managing crowd control, conducting safety drills, and helping with medical and other emergencies," she said.

Captain Johnson of the Rochester Hills substation of the sheriff's department, said that his department provides three deputies and Rochester police two officers, and they stay in the schools about five or six years, unless they are promoted, leave the department, or there is another mitigating reason.

"It's about building relationships. Our school liaison officers actually teach classes pertaining to law enforcement. Our goal is to get a police officer to teach a class in front of students every other year. It helps to develop a strong relationship," Johnson said. "Many students will come and talk with officers then if they have issues and concerns."

Classes with the school liaison officers range from stranger danger, pedestrian safety, 911 emergencies, abuse prevention, bullying, and alcohol, tobacco and marijuana substance abuse awareness in elementary school to bullying, health and drug awareness, internet awareness, sexting, retail fraud and vandalism in middle school; with further education about substance abuse, wellness, a "get real about sex and violence" class, drinking and driving, information about the department of corrections and search and seizure in high school.

"We're one of the only ones that does this kind of program," Johnson said, noting he believes there's a difference in the level of crimes since they began doing classes and expanded programming. "It began about 40 years ago with an 'Officer Bill' kind of thing, and as the community grew, we went from there."

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