Farmington Hills Police Liaison Detectives Gary Lavin and Jeff Miller conducted a school safety audit at Farmington Central High School Sept. 23.

Farmington Hills Police Liaison Detectives Gary Lavin and Jeff Miller conducted a school safety audit at Farmington Central High School Sept. 23.

Photo provided by Farmington Public Schools


FPS formally rolls out school safety audits

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 7, 2019

 A sticker informs visitors at Farmington Public Schools that the building has video surveillance for security purposes.

A sticker informs visitors at Farmington Public Schools that the building has video surveillance for security purposes.

Photo provided by Farmington Public Schools

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Public Schools has officially introduced a new school safety audit program in partnership with local police this year.

The district’s three police liaisons — two from Farmington Hills and one from Farmington — will be conducting approximately four school safety audits at each building per year in order to check the security of the school buildings and to verify that safety protocols are being followed.

Jon Manier, the executive director of student services for the district, said that while the district has been conducting these checks somewhat randomly and informally over the past couple of years, district officials felt it was important to make them a “more formal and rigorous process.”

“We have a lot of protocols in place, but having a routine to make sure those protocols are being practiced and followed is just as important as having the practices,” he said.

During the audits, Manier and the police liaison assigned to the school tour the school building and the exterior grounds with a checklist of about 30 items they’re looking for. Teachers and other staff can ask questions and get clarification or better understanding of how to operate protocols, like how to use their classroom phones to activate the schoolwide PA system.

Detective Jeff Miller, a Farmington Hills Police Department police liaison, said police will still continue to conduct random checks or increase the number of audits if needed.

“It’s good to formally check things every once in a while. After a certain amount of time, people can become relaxed or forgetful. It’s always good to have a refresher or just check to make sure everything is still being followed,” he said. “And with teachers today having so many responsibilities, it’s nice to take a little bit of something off their plate and put it on ours.”

Following the audits, the police liaison provides feedback to school staff about anything they can improve upon. Miller said that while there have been minor adjustments the district has had to make, the district has been receptive to implementing those changes right away.

“Obviously, we would like to come to a point — and hopefully, the next time we do (an audit) we will come across no issues whatsoever,” Miller said. “(But) the very few issues we’ve seen have been extremely minor. It’s the same kind of stuff at every building, like a lock on an internal door breaks or something like that.”

With a larger number of reports of active threats at schools in the nation, some originating from inside the school building, the district has also upgraded its lockdown drill protocol from the nationally known FBI “Run, Hide, Fight” program to the “ALICE” training program.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

“We’ve reframed (our lockdown drills) to say, ‘You don’t necessarily know where this threat is. You have to be prepared to take a course of action, and that’s where the ALICE program comes in.’ It’s a programmatic approach,” said Manier.

Manier said the programs are somewhat similar, but the district has transitioned to ALICE because of its emphasis on communication.

“One of the things we’re trying to work on is the communication systems in place if there is a crisis in the building,” he said. “We want our staff to really realize that if they have a concern or see something, to pick up the phone, get on the PA (system) and make that announcement.”

Miller added that the ALICE program gives staff and students more decision-making power and options, “rather than just hiding in a corner.”

“Run, Hide, Fight is kind of the antiquated lockdown procedure, but some school districts are still using it,” Miller said. “Our schools have been very out in the forefront of changing that and making sure their schools are as safe as they can (be), and I do believe ALICE provides the best options in case of an emergency.”

Overall, Miller and Manier said, they believe the larger police presence has and will continue to help deter danger.

For more information about Farmington Public Schools’ safety and security programs and protocols, visit farmington.k12.mi.us/Page/1773.

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