Thursday, December 20, 2012

Troy Schools Need Police Liaison Officers


 from Rhonda
            Trying to wrap my head around the devastating murder of innocents in Connecticut has been especially difficult during this season of what is supposed to be a loving, sharing and giving time of year. Going to Troy High school this month and enjoying the band, orchestra and choir concerts and seeing the talented students and dedicated teachers brings the loss into sharp relief.  The lives of Newtown 6 year olds that will never be.
            While the country, the White House and school districts consider how to make our citizens and children safer, I hope that they will consider all issues that create these tragedies. Troy Police Chief Mayer spoke at the council meeting the other night about how the TPD is working with the Troy School District to have additional safety measures in place. That is reassuring.
            But having worked in the Troy High School main office briefly and in Niles High School, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the presence of a police liaison officer. The in-school officers in the high schools were dropped in down economic times. However, there are some things that are just worth whatever it costs. This is one of them.
            The officers are incredible. They have the pulse of what is going on in and out of the school setting. They are on top of potential danger and trained in dealing with stressful, life threatening situations. While I was at THS, the officer helped to save the life of a parent who we determined over the phone might be having a heart attack in his home. I was so grateful that the officer was in the school at the moment I took that call and was able to get help for the parent and save him. It was awe-inspiring.
            Then there was the incident when a caller threatened a Troy elementary school over the phone and said a gunman was in the building. The Troy Police department secured the school in minutes and tracked the caller down in a matter of hours and arrested the person. This is excellent police work. It is necessary to our sense of security.
            How do we find a way to make the liaison officers a part of our schools again? I trust that there will be all versions of safety protocols for schools, parents and visitors, even greater than there are today. City government will discuss police staffing levels and costs in budget sessions. As a parent I ask what price can we put on our children’s and our family’s safety?
            These police liaison officers presence offer a comfort to students in today’s scary times (even thought they may not admit it) and is surely a comfort to staff. Campus aides perform a function in the building, certainly. But there is no substitute for a police officer. I do not want to debate gun control here. Suffice to say that if someone is going to be armed in a school, my money is on the trained professional from the Troy Police Department. I hope the school district can find a way to put them back in the schools where they play a vital role in the safety of our school communities.

7 comments:

  1. I've been hearing quite a bit about school closings throughout the nation based on people phoning in threats. It's appalling that this is entertainment to some people. In fact, schools in two communities in my neck of the woods are closed today because of similar phone calls. The Troy Police Department always does an excellent job in terms of keeping the community safe. However, I feel like school safety is something that is going to have to adapt sooner rather than later. I'm sure the anti-tax crowd would rap me in the mouth for this, but there needs to be more funds for police officers and/or some security force in all of our schools. It's high time that more resources are devoted to safety in schools. And I will adjourn from my soap box and wish the good people of Troy a safe and merry christmas.

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  2. For the record, after reading the NRA position today on armed police officers in every school, I feel it is important to state that I DO NOT SUPPORT THE POSITIONS OF THE NRA. I support a liaison officer that is working to keep the pulse of the community, what potential dangers there are and what can be circumvented. I do not believe that we need to arm every school in Troy. I am simply suggesting we go back to the standards we had a couple years ago with a presence and a participation of the police where feasible, such as the high schools. The NRA is in deflect and redirect the conversation mode, as they have been after every single gun tragedy that has struck this country since Columbine.

    So, I will state again. I support police liaison officers assigned to the Troy school district. Not armed police officers in every school.

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  3. Thank you for this thoughtful post. The cuts to our Police Department brought about by misinformation from a poorly informed, dogmatic tax fighting group in Troy are absurd. The fact is, our police department is still well equipped to respond and investigate. But the work they once were able to do in the effort to be a part of the fabric of our community is something we lost. It's shameful, disgusting and shortsighted. But it's what happens when cheap, self-centered people who do not have a clue about the actual facts and realities control the conversation.

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    1. The Troy Police Dept. was one of the few City deparments NOT touched by the massive layoffs in 2010. Other departments were decimated and/or privatized because the PD wouldn't budge on cuts (thanks to their union). They should be posted in schools if needed/wanted there. That's not sacrifice or duty above and beyond the call. Sadly, it's the new normal business-as-usual.

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    2. The operating millage failed in February 2010. The police dept was not touched then because safey was prioritized in that budget cycle. It has been changed dramatically since then. The unions reopened their contracts early to take cuts. They would have opened them even earlier, but the TCU set the tone that caused everyone to dig in and wonder what approach they should take.

      This community has been deeply harmed by the TCU and its followers; they succeeded in pitting groups against one another that would have otherwise worked together to ride out the property value plummet. Sadly, that's what truly is our new normal, business-as-usual in Troy. I wish they would stop their games and attacks. I really do.

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  4. Re: Anon 12/24 8:15 am -
    Your statement is largely inaccurate. Records indicate that the police department reduced from about 130 officers in 2008 to just over 90 officers in 2012; the downsizing occurred via retirements (many by way of inducements offered to all city employees). The Troy Police unions (according to the city website there are 4 that represent various police employees) all gave concessions (verified through the city website and media reports). According to newspaper articles the police officers union initially rejected concessions which resulted in the issuance of 10 lay-off notices; the union then reconsidered, agreed to concessions, and the lay-offs were averted. So, regardless of method the police department was decimated also.
    The result of the downsizing was the loss of the three officers stationed in the high schools, the loss of the traffic safety enforcement function, the loss of the non-unionized deputy police chief position, the loss of police response to a variety of situations (medical emergencies for example), the outsourcing of animal control and delayed response to non-emergency calls. I'm sure the police department or another city official can discuss the impact in greater detail.
    I do agree they should be posted in the schools is warranted (given what's happened in recent years that need should be obvious) and if the TSD wants them; I'm not sure what the school district's opinion is. It is not a call above and beyond what is expected and required of police officers, that is their job. To which end we should demand a competent (and Troy PD is competent by all measurable standards), well staffed, well trained and well equipped police department.
    The Troy PD website has much information about their reduction in staff and services provided. Don't want to engage in an argument; but, the facts are the facts.

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  5. A review of media reports, council agendas, the ICMA report and the city's website accurately describe what has happened to the Troy Police Department; the information contained in the post of 12/24 at 8:15 AM is inaccurate. The downsizing of the Troy Police Department began in 2009 when the city provided incentives to retire that resulted in at least seven officers leaving; none of them were replaced.
    The police department went from about 135 officers in 2009 to just over 90 in 2012. As result, the police officers assigned to the three high schools were reassigned to fill the gaps the loss of officers created. The police union initially rejected contract concessions which resulted in the issuance of 10 layoff notices; the union reconsidered, took concessions (which resulted in more retirements that weren't replaced) and layoffs were averted.
    The police department privatized animal control to Oakland County (had to call them Saturday; virtually no service), doesn't respond to medical emergencies anymore, eliminated traffic enforcement patrols (result? check the dashboard on the city website, traffic accidents increased), removed officers from the schools, reduced the public hours of the records bureau, and a host of other cuts that are detailed in media reports.
    While the PD did not suffer "layoffs" I would suggest a 33% reduction in staffing via retirements has decimated the department.
    What did the police do to deserve this fate? Gave us the safest city in Michigan, every year.
    As for officers in schools, I doubt any officer would claim such a request is above and beyond the call of duty or a sacrifice. Troy had officers in the schools for many years; there was and is a need for it now.
    I'm tired of the broad generalizations and misrepresentation of the facts to promote a political agenda. If I can go online and find the truth anyone can.

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