Detroit Schools privatize security forces www.privateofficer.com
The district has contracted with the Sweden-based security guard company Securitas.
Steve Wasko, chief communications officer of DPS, says the district expects to save $3 million by outsourcing to the private company.
The current security guards have said the district is putting students at risk by outsourcing to “untrained guards.”
“A Securitas guard maced and handcuffed a student at Mumford [High School] to a chair for hours before contacting his parents,” a DPS security guard told the Michigan Citizen July 26, while the guards protested outside the Fisher Building against the outsourcing.
Subsequently, the student’s parent filed a lawsuit against the district following the Jan. 22 incident.
The current DPS security officers say they have close relationships to the students and are more like family.
“This past winter a student came to me and told me he didn’t have water at his home … I would get to the school every morning an hour early and let him take a shower in the locker room and would wash his clothes. We’re more of a family than anything … we know our kids,” DPS Officer Shirley Howard-Allen told the M.C. Howard-Allen has been with the district for 10 years.
According to the current officers, Securitas officers have no arrest powers, and will not be able to provide safety for DPS students.
“They were the lowest bidder but you can’t put a price tag on these kids’ safety,” said DPS officer Lawrence Edmonson.
The officers are accusing their Teamsters union of not providing proper representation by not putting in a bid.
“We’ve paid our dues and they didn’t do anything to help us,” an officer told the M.C.
Some members accuse the union of wanting to bring Securitas guards into the Teamsters.
David Sutton, the business agent representing Local 214, says that the accusations are not true.
“DPS says, ‘I have a right to privatize and am going to do so,’” Sutton said.
Sutton says bidding was properly done and the district refused to accept the union’s bid.
Regarding teamsters “double-dipping” and representing Securitas, Sutton says Local 214 can’t represent a private company.
“Local 214 can only represent public-sector employees. Other Teamsters’ Locals can represent the private sector but not security guards,” Sutton said.
According to Sutton, private security companies can only be represented by a security guard union.
Wasko says the district’s concern was the reliability of the current officers.
“Our single biggest concern with the current security personnel is chronic absenteeism which, on days like yesterday, which is typical, 17 percent of the workforce chose not to come to work.”
The current DPS officers say the new guards will not be prepared to be in the schools.
“They only receive 49 hours of training prior to working in the schools,” Kirk Bennett said.
Edmonson says DPS officers receive eight weeks of police-style training in first aid, defense and conflict resolution.
Sutton says they have yet to receive anything in writing, only a verbal notice of non-renewal.