New safety measures on tap for Macomb schools

The Detroit News

A group of Macomb County authorities and district leaders on Thursday announced new measures to boost safety and security at local schools.

Plans call for enhanced training, more officers in high schools and Sterling Heights police emergency access to security camera footage, officials said.

The efforts emerged through a collaboration between Sterling Heights investigators and the superintendents of Utica Community and Warren Consolidated school districts.

At a news conference Thursday, Sterling Heights police Chief Dale Dwojakowski highlighted a department program that steps up patrols at all schools.

The department also plans an eight-week education program, possibly starting this fall, involving an officer visiting local elementary schools to discuss topics such as alcohol, cigarettes and vaping.

“Having more police officers present in schools will give us an opportunity not only to grow relationships with students and serve as a friend and resource, but also allow SHPD to react quickly if there were ever to be an active threat,” Dwojakowski said in a statement.

At the Thursday news conference, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric J. Smith praised the efforts “to stem the tide of these threats and their vigilance in protecting our children while they are in the classroom. I continue to urge parents and teachers to discuss the ramifications of false threats of terrorism. These threats are no joke — my office has a zero tolerance policy in place for any and all threats made against our schools.”

The initiatives come as law enforcement and school officials across southeast Michigan explore safety practices and deal with threats following the Feb. 14 shootings in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

This week, threats prompted administrators to close districts in Hazel Park and Oak Park. The Frederick Douglass International Academy, which also is in Oak Park, also is closed Friday for a second straight day. Hazel Park Schools are closed Friday due to a threat.

Fitzgerald Public Schools in Macomb County was closed Thursday “due to a threat,” per the district’s Facebook page.

In Wayne County, Redford Union High School was closed Thursday because of threats. The closure came a day after the campus was on “soft lockdown” because of a different threat.

Hamtramck High School, Horizon High School and Hamtramck High Community Center also were closed Thursday.