Detroit Public Schools officials in the next six months will open a new police command center that will serve as the base of operations for a district-wide security system using high-tech video surveillance cameras and alarms to enhance public safety on all school campuses for all students.
Flanked by city, law enforcement and community-based crime prevention agencies, the district broke ground July 16 on the new $5.6 million Office of Public Safety Headquarters and Operations Center.
Construction will begin this month on the 23,000-square-foot building at 8500 Cameron Street, on the site of the former Sherrard School in the North End neighborhood. It will replace the existing police headquarters building on Woodward Avenue that was the site of a former car dealership and is so outdated that it cannot accommodate the technological infrastructure necessary to effectively monitor the schools. Construction is scheduled to be complete by December 2010.
The new Office of Public Safety is part of a $41.7 million initiative to improve safety and security through cutting-edge technology and infrastructure and a reorganization of the police department. The contract for the public safety building was awarded to Detroit-headquartered O’Brien Edwards Construction Company.
As part of the safety plan, activity at schools throughout the district will be monitored from the new headquarters and operations center using new digital video surveillance cameras at schools.
The new building also will house administration and operations offices for DPS public safety officers and staff, conference and training rooms, public waiting areas, dispatch center, in addition to holding rooms for juveniles and adults, intake and processing areas, as well an area to house the district’s two canines from the K-9 unit.
“When I talk to DPS parents, many say that improving the safety and security of their children in schools is their topmost priority – even more than academics, which we know is an area of critical concern for them,” said Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager. “This new Office of Public Safety Headquarters and Operations Center is designed to greatly enhance the safety of students in our schools by improving our officers’ ability to monitor and secure buildings, respond quickly in the case of an emergency and investigate incidents.”
The facility will be fully operational in six months and is part of a full reorganization of the Office of Public Safety that will bring modern-day policing capabilities to the department, said DPS Inspector General John Bell, who oversees the Detroit Public Schools Office of Public Safety. The new headquarters will also house a reorganized investigations unit with a team of investigators headed by an Inspector.
The new system will replace the three outdated badge systems currently in place and will facilitate better monitoring of employee attendance.Detroit voters approved the Proposal S Bond Referendum last November which enabled the district to access $500.5 million in federal dollars for school capital improvement projects.
For more information on the DPS School Construction Project, visit www.dpsschoolconstruction.org.