Detroit Schools Cut 24 Percent of Guards

Budget deficit and drop in student numbers causes schools to cut about 100 guards in past 18 months

City officials won't say how many officers joined the district's existing security forces but said it won't cost more money because the officers are being taken from other assignments.

In addition to staff security guards, who don't carry guns and don't have the power to make arrests, the district has about 30 police officers on staff.

Kilpatrick wants Sheriff Warren Evans to take over security duties for the district, saying Evans could better connect the district with county resources, such as truancy programs. The newly elected school board will grapple with that issue when members take office next month. Some new board members have said they want to transform the district's security force into an independent police agency with added power.

Mitchell maintains that the inside of the schools are safe and that the problem is often outsiders. He said Evans' proposal is political.

"Warren Evans doesn't know diddly-squat about what happens in our schools," Mitchell said. "It's a power play for money and power."

The sheriff's office already handles security in the Highland Park district, with five school officers.

The pair of incidents began Monday: Two students were shot in the leg by a drive-by assailant as they walked home from Southeastern High School on the city's east side.

The next day, a student opened a side door at Central High School to allow a group of people in and one of the outsiders was shot in the arm in the school's vestibule.

Initially, Mitchell said the Central victim was an 18-year-old who did not attend school in the district. On Thursday, he said the victim was 14 years old and had been suspended from the district. That information couldn't be verified Thursday.

Also, a female janitor was stripped of her clothing and robbed Monday at Ronald Brown Academy.

Before this week, the last shooting in a Detroit school was January 2004, when a 19-year-old man entered Northern High School with a gun and shot a teenager six times in the leg, Mitchell said. The shooter was a student at another Detroit school.

<<The Detroit News -- 12/12/05>>