Friday, January 22, 2010

Did you Know? DCSS has a pretty darn large police department all it's own

An Anonymous poster has done some research on the subject of police in our schools. Visit this link to download the detailed budget for support services (the police budget begins on page 157). The total budget for campus security for 2009 was $11,458,886. The proposed 2010 budget 'slashes' that amount to 11,084,805 and reduces the number of positions from 209 down to 203. The 2010 budget includes the same amount for canines and other /extra activities (gang prevention) - $95,998.

We have no issues with security, but wonder if they shouldn't feel the budget pinch at least as much as our teachers. There seems to be room for some sacrifice in this department.

We sorted our files to reveal the top salaries posted at Georgia Open online for DeKalb school security. The DeKalb police officers will be knocking down our doors to apply for these jobs after they read this. There are many jobs in the $30k range, however, the actual average is $45,437.

We're not certain what campus resource officers do in the summer and during the holiday breaks.

There are 13 people labeled "security officer" making over $70,000 in this department, with the top salary being $92,263.20, Twenty-one people make in the $60s, 49 make in the $50s and 26 in the $40s. The majority - 86 officers - make in the $30s.

Additionally, there are two directors of school safety:


Anonymous shared that the department's total $11.3 million budget for 2010 breaks down like this:

2 Administrators (Directors)
5 Supervisors (1 Lieutenant, 4 Srgnt)
63 School Resource Officers
9 Detectives
4 Civilian (Secretary)
120 Campus Supervisors

Wow, that's a massive number. What metrics are used to measure their performance? 9 detectives? 4 secretaries?

I know for a fact that it is MARTA Police that are dealing with many of the problems with the Dekalb Aleternative School (which is out of control). it is MARTA Police who are picking up so many truant students from that school. The school police are nowhere to be found. 9 detectives? Seriously, what do they do!!!


Paula Caldarella said...

As a parent with 2 children in 2 different schools, I have no problem with the security budget. For those of you who are advocating cutting this, perhaps, you have no idea what goes on even in the "best" of schools with regards to drugs, weapons, etc.

Sorry, this is an "non-issue" as far as I'm concerned. Let's get back to talking about all those positions in the Central Office.

Anonymous said...

This is a HUGE issue, Dunwoody Mom. 9 detectives? How is the effectiveness of this dept. measured? There aren't a whole lot of drugs in our elementary schools. My brother is a police officer in a school in a different system, but he works for his city, and is out on patrol when school is not on. And yes I know what goes on in our schools. Our high schools do need resource officers, but when he heard we had 9 detectives, he was totally shocked. DeKalb County should be handling most investigations regarding our schools.

There are 22 high schools, more like 21 since the School of the Arts is in Avondale High. That is where the focus needs to be.

But $11 million plus? Once again, this blog has exposed DCSS spending that has been out of the public eye. Two directors? Higher salaries than out county police. What do they do half of the year, as DCSS is only in session for 180 out of 365 days per year.

With all these officers, how do we have so much vandalism behind Heritage and so many people sneaking onto DCSS fields during off hours. We have a huge police force, but no one patrols the schools at night and weekends.

Crawford is proposing cuts. This is the first place to start. At the very least, the BOE needs to do a personnel audit on this dept. it is bloat personified.

Paula Caldarella said...

DeKalb County should be handling most investigations regarding our schools.

Yeah, right. The DeKalb police don't have enough personnel to handle their own issues much less those of the school system.

There aren't a whole lot of drugs in our elementary schools.

Okay, I don't know what world you live in.

Again, this is certainly NOT the first place to start cuts.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree DM. Though I may be the only one disagreeing with you. This department has grown dramatically over the years while the student population has stayed relatively flat.

But if consensus isn't to rightsize the department, here's another example where outsourcing would benefit the taxpayers.

Hire off duty DeKalb police to fill these roles and not only do you save a bundle on salary and benefits, you also get officers who are up-to-date on their training, have access to PD daily shift briefings (helpful to stay abreast with gang activity), have no cost associated with in-service training (since they get it already with DeKalb PD), have unlimited access to firing ranges, know of (or how to use) latest SWAT gear, bomb threat techniques, hostage negotiation methods, AND many have their own taxpayer supplied take-home cars already.

Area churches have seemed to figure this out -- they have their regular off duty cops directing traffic every Sunday, greeting worshipers with a smile and professionalism. I think DCSS could figure out how to do the same.

Voterwhocares said...

Did the Police Department once provided security for the school system? If we made an agreement for our local police department to provide this service again, I am sure we could cut the cost and increase the coverage. The school budget needs to focus on teaching our children and not financing an in-house police department.

Cerebration said...

My point with this perspective is -- the teachers have suffered enough. There are other budgets with room to cut. This looks like it could be one of them.

To ask teachers(!) to make sacrifice after sacrifice, yet others make no sacrifice at all is absurd.

We are in the EDUCATION business - first and foremost. Destroying teacher morale is the very worst thing we can do.

Paula Caldarella said...

The school budget needs to focus on teaching our children and not financing an in-house police department.

And there also needs to be a safe and secure environment for these children to learn.

I'll be the first instance of real trouble in one of our schools and there was no SRO available, you would be screaming at Dr. Lewis "where are the police officers". This issue is something else to bring up and blame on Lewis.

Cerebration said...

ps - has anyone noticed that Dr. Lewis always travels with his own personal security force? Take a look around at the next parent council meeting. He even brought extras when he came to Lakeside to explain why he fired Chelf.

Paula Caldarella said...

cere, if appropriate cuts were made in the Central Office, there would no need to reduce the security area.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:53, that was the best post of the year. We have a huge DCSS Police dept. that hasn't downsized.

And Dunwoody Mom, I am good friends with a DCSS principal, and he is adamant that drugs are NOT a major issue in DCSS elementary schools, with a few occassional exceptions, and that is it mixed at middle schools, but half of the middle schools are doing well at keeping drugs out. The laws regarding drugs areound schools have made a huge difference, especially around elementary and middle schools. He is clear that drugs are an issue at most but not all DCSS high schools. He was very surprised to hear how large the budget was for DCSS police.

Anonymous said...

We need to right size all departments in the DCSS school system. If all of these are truly needed, great, but they should be looking at the same pay cuts that teachers, principals and others in the district are looking at.

The budget is not really being examined and looked at for ways that we can save. I don't want people to lose their jobs, but our children are losing out on an education. I want my tax dollars to provide the children of DeKalb a quality education and not support family and friends with jobs that we really do not need.

Paula Caldarella said...

And Dunwoody Mom, I am good friends with a DCSS principal, and he is adamant that drugs are NOT a major issue in DCSS elementary schools,

So, one principal knows what is going on in all the schools in DCSS? Nah...I know you're trying to prove your point - won't work on me, sorry.

And I'm sure the principal at Columbine thought his campus was safe, too.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE, PLEASE everyone: demand to your BOE member that indepenedent forensic and personnel audits are performed for every DCSS Dept., and that the results are made public at the same time they are presented to the BOE. Forensic audits and personnel audits are invaluable to large corporations and organizatons!!

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, wow are you closed- minded. So you know more than a principal who meets with his fellow principals regularly? And you are suddenly and expert on school security? Your credibility is waning.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm not trying to be credible. I'm a Mother and I want to know that my children are safe in the 7hours that they are out of my sight.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, what are you talking about? Columbine had SRO's. No one is talking about taking away SRO's. Every high school should have two SRO's, and every middle school at least one, and if needed, elementary schools can share one. But there is absolutely no justification for a such a huge school police force with TWO directors, four secreatries and nine detectives.

Once again, as it's been said here multiple times, put resources back into the schools. We need SRO's, but we don't need a huge police bureuacracy. And the post about usiing off duty police officers is spot on, as DCSS/taxpayers would save huge amounts on training and pensions/benefits. Many school systems use off duty police. We need to look at every option that gives a resource to a school but doesn't become one more form of bloat.

Anonymous said...

SRO's, yes. Bloated DCSS Police Dept., no.

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure, but I don't think our area elementary schools (Oak Grove, Sagamore, Coralwood, Briarlake) have SROs on staff. No one I know is fearful that their children are in danger.

Yes, high schools can use an SRO, but that surely wouldn't prevent a Columbine situation - it would simply help out the discipline principal. For instance, it's well-known among area teens that you can easily buy a stolen iPod or iPhone from a Chamblee student. There's a whole underground market of goods stolen from other students. Wonder why the detectives haven't put a damper on this.

Yes, we need drug sniffing dogs and other types of intervention - but again, my point is - why is it ok to ask teachers to make all of the sacrifices?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, I have a child in a DCSS elem school, and I don't disagree with you about safety in the school house. Every school should have a SRO of odd duty officer.

I come from a large family of many policie officers. If you want someone who will get to know the student body and staff well and handle basic security, then you want a SRO. If you want someone who has very good training and can handle an actual security threat and confront issues with drugs coming into a school, then you want an off duty police officer.

I personally grew up with off duty police officers in my high school, and it worked well. There are some very valid questions about what the DCSS Police Dept. does for the 185 days school is not in session, and if the dept. has downsized as the enrollment has decreased. There is a responsibility to parents and students but also taxpayers.

Police officers get extra benefits and pnsions, so even though off duty police officers cost more per hour, if you balance out pensions and benefits, it evens out.

I definitely agree that it is time for the BOE to look at the DCSS Police Dept. compare it to what the school systems in Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Macon, etc. do. It is definitely time for a personnel audit, which I've seen work very well. And departments such as this should be audited every 5 to 10 years. It is very easy to get complacent.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

I'm not advocating teachers vs security. I'm saying that if the cuts were made to the Central Office, as they should be, then there would need to be no discussion on this security issue.

We decry it when police services at the county/city level are cut. We hear all the time that you cannot put a price on a good police service. But someone wants to complain about overpaying for security in our schools? I'm puzzled...

Anonymous said...

"I want my tax dollars to provide the children of DeKalb a quality education and not support family and friends with jobs that we really do not need."
Why is that so hard for DCSS and the BOE to understand? Why is preserving jobs prioritized over education? Are these people completely out of touch or do they just not give a damn?

Anonymous said...

Most middle schools have a couple of unarmed serurity staffers who work the main door, and an armed officer who spends a lot of time maintaining an office. I think most middle schools could do without the armed SRO, or perhaps share one with the nearest HS. Security is a concern, but this is one area that is way overstaffed.

Cerebration said...

"But someone wants to complain about overpaying for security in our schools? I'm puzzled..."

DM -- I don't want to overpay for anything - and cuts need to be made. To me, this department looks bloated.

Insider said...

Hansen is over Security Systems - which covers CCTV, alarm monitoring, etc. His department has taken a staffing hit recently. Wood-Shuffett is over the police side of things. I don't know how many folks she may or may not have lost.

Anonymous said...

ps - has anyone noticed that Dr. Lewis always travels with his own personal security force? Take a look around at the next parent council meeting. He even brought extras when he came to Lakeside to explain why he fired Chelf.

With the level of vitriol toward Dr. Lewis expressed on this board, I'd say he needs a personal security force.

Anonymous said...

CLew does. He has a personal staff of 4 for 24 hours a day.

Cerebration said...

What a ridiculous statement. No one here would ever cause any harm to Dr. Lewis - that was an uncalled for accusation.

Anonymous said...

Why is it when we try to get things out in the open we get shot down.

Go check the log books. The SRO's were complaining about it on the radio the other day.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of the ire reflected in this blog is directed against Dr. Lewis at all.

Rather it is directed at the proposals that Dr. Lewis is recommending in this economic crisis.

It's pretty simple really. Parents want more money spent in the classroom, not less. All of Dr. Lewis's proposals spend less on students versus looking at cutting non-instructional spending.

Parents and teachers don't like his proposals. It's not personal. The vast majority of the people who write in this blog probably don't even know Dr. Lewis.

Cerebration said...

Not to mention, the time he came to Lakeside with his security entourage (which was incredibly insulting - can you imagine if the reverse had occurred?) - was 3 years ago -- loooooong before this blog had a life.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis had two officers accompany him to a recent Teacher Advisory Committee meeting. This was after his raise was approved. The fact that he thinks his physical safety is in danger and that the teachers would harm him is a sad reflection of his mentality. It's like we're his enemies.

Anonymous said...

Schools are public buildings. An intruder walks in off of the street. He refuses to leave. Who would you like to remove him from the building? There is a serious fight or incident. Who would you like to handle it? The DCSS Police took a cut in the last lay offs. Both the security department and the police officers.My family and I live in North Fulton. When I go to my son's school, I see an armed police officer and I am very grateful. We need to be honest. We live in a society where there is violence. An officer being present can prevent someone from doing something. Why don't you ask teachers, administrators and students about their feelings about police officers and the need for them in the schools? Dunwoody Mom, I am with you on this. If the DCSS has been spared from serious issues realted to school violence, maybe it is because of the officers that protect all of our students and staff. Please do not attack these people. No one in my family is a police officer. I am an educator and a parent. Before you start saying there is no need for this service,seek the input of the people in the schools.

Cerebration said...

You need to reread the article, Anon. We are not attacking campus police. We are saying that there are too many of them and too many people in their administration. (Do we really NEED TWO directors of school safety, 5 SUPERVISORS, 9 DETECTIVES and FOUR secretaries?) If you add up the SROs and the campus supervisors, you get 183 officers. We only have 21 high schools and 20 middle schools and about 10 "centers". (I simply can't believe that we need police officers in our elementary schools.) You don't think this could be a bit excessive?

Why do they not have to take cuts in this budget? Times are supposedly tough - but our school system is only asking the teachers and bus drivers to take the tough hits. Fair is Fair, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 9:13pm -- Many of us are saying the same thing: Make the school house safe for staff and students. Just do it without spending $100K plus for TWO Chiefs, and $60K+ for many of their officers who only have to work 6 months out of the year. I don't know any street cops with a potential earning of $120K/yr... unless they are on the BOE and CLew Friends&Family Plan. Even the $30K people on a 6-month stint ($60K annual + retirement, healthcare & benes) seem overpaid for what they do: "Please sign in here".

While the security overspending boondoggle is just a fraction of the DCSS overall budget, it's just one more example of your BOE reps and CLouis not giving a shi& about the real issue -- REWORK THE BUDGET TO PUT AN EMPHASIS ON EDUCATING THE CHILDREN WHO ARE VOICELESS AND NEED YOU TO BE LEADERS IN THEIR EDUCATION.

Step up, or step out.

Kim Gokce said...

Two quick observations ... (out of character, I know!):

1) Every area should be reasonably examined for possible cuts. Decision-makers are paid to determine where cuts will not harm "service" and we sure don't want security reduced unnecessarily.

2) The DCSS securit/policing function is VERY different from County policing - standards for searches and rights of students are very different inside the DCSS building versus on the streets of DeKalb. It IS different than "professional policing" and should be.

Anonymous said...

This is what you should watch. 2009 (127) people in the lay-offs.
I can assure that between the friends and family members and raises lewis has spent that money.

Anonymous said...

There are some elementary schools with small enrollments, under 300 students. A full-time School Resource Officer in those school is a ridiculous and wasteful luxury.

But that is what we've come to expect from Crawford Lewis, Bob Moseley, Gloria Talley, Ron Ramsey and Marcus Turk. it is spend, spend, spend, until the bill comes due, then it's threaten programs that actually affect student learning.

SRO's ir off duty police in high schools and middle schools? Sure. A SRO or two at a middle school. Sure. A SRO at a larger elem school. Sure.

But a top heavy DCSS Police Dept., and SRO's at tiny elem schools? NO WAY. I am a DCSS parent and a taxpayer. I want my property taxes and SPLOST to go to an afficient. lean and mean school system. That will never happen as long as Crawford Lewis is superintendent.

Paula Caldarella said...

There are some elementary schools with small enrollments, under 300 students. A full-time School Resource Officer in those school is a ridiculous and wasteful luxury

Really? What does having a SRO have to do with the size of the school? It only takes one child bringing a weapon to school or to start a fight.

Cerebration said...

I'm telling you - someone correct me if I'm wrong - none of the elementary schools in our area have an SRO. Not unless this has changed in very recent years.

Not Oak Grove, not Briarlake, not Sagamore, not Laurel Ridge, not Hawthorne, not Henderson Mill, not Medlock...

Dunwoody mom - are you saying that Austin, Chesnut, Kingsley and Vanderlyn have SROs? Does the new Dunwoody ES?

What elementary school has an SRO? I'm flummoxed.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Dunwoody Mom that the elementary chools are so out of control with fights, drugs, etc. She must have first-hand knowledge of some terrible incidents to be so convinced of the need for security in an elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Seems to be a pretty high level of emotion around this issue. New to the this topic, but will examine the number of schools to the number of positions, etc. I feel certain that the security area for DCSS generates a monthly or quarterly report on the number of incidents, etc....
I have to believe that this is an area that is not blatantly poised for reduction? My child is at an elementary school on the north end of the county and I don't think that we have a security presence. However, I have observed the vehicle at the school on a fairly regular basis. Really, do you watch the news,,,,, Although I could see "sharing" this resource for elementary schools in close proximity, I think middle and high schools probably receive good benefit for an ongoing security presence.
A lot of crazy people out there ! Although a security person might not be within reach distance, I would hard pressed not to believe that the presence would help to deter plenty of undesirable events, etc.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone has a problem with a SRO at every elementary school, with two SRO's at larger middle schools and at all high schools.

It is definitely worth looking into on the expenses of a full-time SRO with benefits and pensions who are only needed 180 days a year vs. the cost of hiring off duty DeKalb police officers, who already receive training and we're not stuck with paying their pension and benefits.

I've heard the the DCSS police department budget and staff has risen dramtaically under Crawford Lewis, who suddenly likes to use them a lot, and even gets protection when not at a school event. Sounds like Vernon Jones redux.

There are a lot of DCSS departments that need to be reduced or outsourced, like Sam Moss and Info. Systems. But when it comes to hard budget cuts, clearly, the DCSS police department is the place to start. it needs to be lean and mean, and not a luxury for Crawford to have personal bodyguards.

Anonymous said...

I agree Anon 12:25. I have no probem with SRO's, but it seems like the whole department is very top heavy and bloated. DCSS can't do anything in an efficient manner. Things grow and grow and grow, with no checks and balances. How do millions in spending like this always slip past the BOE??

Anonymous said...

Only 2 elememtary schools have SRO's. There use to just be one department that handled Security and the Police. About two or three years ago, the department was split into two. Then a person was promoted to be over the security department. If someone is willing to do the research you will see that what I am saying is true. The schools do need police. There are things that happen that do need to be investigated by detectives. I do not know that we need two different departments.

Cerebration said...

We are not saying that we don't need security in our schools - we do. We are saying that there are too many of them and too many people in their administration. I personally, cannot pinpoint where all of these officers are located.

If you add up the SROs and the campus supervisors, you get 183 officers. (Is there a difference between SROs and campus supervisors?) We only have 21 high schools and 20 middle schools and about 10 "centers". People are saying that only a 2 elementary schools have campus security.

So - if we put one officer in each HS and MS that means we need 41 officers. Say we put 2 officers in each - that means we need 82 officers of some kind.

BUT - we have 63 Resource Officers and 120 campus supervisors (are they officers or are these those guys that yell at you from their golf cart in the morning to move your car along?)

Could it be possible that MANY of these officers are assigned to the central office somehow? I'm not counting this many in our school buildings.

Just sayin'

Ella Smith said...

Yes, many of these officers are at the central office. The central office is considered a campus. In fact you have SRO who duties are just the school board in general and the central office. I have never seen the need for this. I think it would be cheaper to hire off-duty police officers.

Again Dekalb County is a big employer and you continue to hear School Board members concerned about cutting jobs. Jobs need to be cut. We hired or elected our School Board members to make those hard decisions and make those cuts for the citizens of Dekalb. They are not suppose to be social services.

If we got rid of employees we do not need and paid our teachers what they deserve we would be much better off.

I watch SRO or Office Supervisors sleep in their carts on DeKalb Campuses for years. In fact at Lakeside the Campus Supervisors destroyed a cart that students had put up on a landing as a senior prank. The students pushed it up there on pieces of wood. The Campus Supervisors drive the cart down the steps and broke the cart. Now I am not in support of the prank. However, I do think it was horrible to make the parents pay for damages when in fact the Campus Supervisor did not have sense enough to know that the students did not get the golf cart up on the landing by driving it. We are talking about kids who do not have good judgement at this age and adult men who equally had poor judgement at their age.

Anonymous said...

Too many chiefs (of police) and too few indians (teachers). Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the SRO at my children's middle and high schools are (unfortunately) necessary. They do a good job and are very visible.

Now the graduation coach is another story. He is worthless and has been in the DCSS system for many, many years which tells me he is making a lot of money to do nothing.

Jim Hansen, one of the directors, is in charge of fire and safety. He oversees installation, maintenance and operation of all the fire alarm systems, security cameras and intrusion alarm systems. This is an important position. When you talk about "security" it includes the physical security of the many buildings owned and operated by DCSS and their contents.

Anonymous said...

I did not see Information Systems listed in the attached budget. This department is one of the largest support departments in the county, consuming millions of dollars in personnel costs. Why is it not listed here? Why are we not thinking of outsourcing that department or at least parts of it?

Cerebration said...

Another valid point. It seems to me that the easiest and fastest way to knock down the budget is to take it from the teachers. This must stop. Other departments have plenty of fat that can be trimmed before we go asking for teacher pay cuts or tax increases.

Anonymous said...

School Resource Officers are experienced officers with six or more years spent policing in other jurisdictions such as Alanta and Dekalb.These officers are on site daily and the are responsible for not only preventing and responding to criminal incidents but the also mento, coach counsel and teach classes also. Many of the crimes committed in the communities are solved because of the relationship the Officers are able to develop with the students, faculty and staff. They also deal with child abuse and other sensitive issues.Have any of you taken the time to review a breakdown of the crimes commited in and around the schools that the officers respond to. Remember that schools are part of the community and whatever is going on with ou children ends up at the school.

Anonymous said...

The school officer are 12 month employees. Let's be fair. Have we forgotten about summer school and other activities that take place during the summer.Even though school is a 180 days there are 2 sessions of summer school not included in the 180 day count. The officers man these various summer locations also. Crime does not stop at the end of the 180 day cycle. If you take the time to question some of the teachers and students they will express the great need and their appreciation of the officers.When a fight breaks out involving 15-20 students you want some one there ASAP who can quickly gain control of the situation but also because of their daily contact with the students can quickly identify all parties involved. Hiring officers outside of the school system is not wise because you will get officers hired only to make money with no intrest in the well being of the students. Talk to the people whom the officers really matter to. Our children.

Anonymous said...

Gwinett, Cobb and Fulton County Schools have their own school police departments also. All dept are similar to Dekal's.

Kim Gokce said...

Just to chime in, they are also at all the public meetings, athletic events and many other venues for school-related activities.

I think that there is a very unique role for the SROs in our schools vs. DeKalb PD. There is a clear distinction in my mind for the training and role they play.

Again, I think the "public" is right to question the value of all the administrative apparatus above the officers but there is no doubt in my mind that there must be such a security organization and contracting this sensitive area out doesn't make sense to me.

Long before we slash or outsource security let's look at facilities and grounds maintenance, the many vaguely defined management roles, even procurement.