FLINT – As America grapples with how to keep U.S. schoolchildren safe in the wake of last month’s Florida school shooting that claimed 17 lives, Flintbased DM Burr Group is launching ‘Operation S.O.S.’ (Secure Our Schools) and donating armed or un-armed officers to 15 Michigan school districts.
District administrators will decide whether they prefer an armed or un-armed officer.
The company, one of the largest, privately owned building and property maintenance providers serving the Midwest, will begin Operation S.O.S. in the Kearsley School District in Genesee County, east of Flint, and Oakland County’s Brandon School District, north of Clarkston.
Additional officers will be stationed in other districts throughout metro Detroit and Flint in the coming weeks. The two-month initiative is the first of its kind in Michigan and perhaps the nation.
The goal of Operation S.O.S. is simple: To help schools provide a secure educational environment for students and staff – and an immediate, on-site response in the event of a threat or emergency.
“No child should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to school. And no parent should have to wonder if their child will return home safe at the end of the day,” says John Allen, DM Burr’s CEO. “That’s why we’re launching Operation S.O.S. With the devastating tragedy in Florida followed by all of the lockdowns and scares we’ve seen recently, we sincerely hope this initiative gives parents, students, teachers and administrators some peace of mind.”
Each participating district will receive one officer to safeguard select schools during regular school hours. The officer will coordinate with local law enforcement and district staff, learning the school’s emergency and floor plans and related school safety procedures. The free service will help alleviate security costs for districts weighing long-term solutions.
“We are looking forward to partnering with DM Burr,” said Patti Yorks, superintendent of Kearsley Community Schools.
“The program they are sponsoring will put one officer in the districts with whom they form a partnership,” Yorks added. “We have yet to meet with them to determine any specifics, including what building or whether we will have an armed or an unarmed officer.”
A leader in private security, DM Burr counts schools, corporations and healthcare facilities among its clientele and has well-established partnerships with police departments throughout the region.
Each member of its skilled security team has received extensive training in multiple areas, firearms, first-aid and CPR, and active shooter scenarios. In addition, DM Burr security personnel, many of whom are retired or reserve police officers, undergo extensive Michigan State Police background checks and ongoing FBI Live Scan review.
“I would just like to say that Operation SOS is setup to help our most vulnerable and precious gifts in our lives and that is our children,” said David M. Burr, owner of the company. “As a local security company owner with two children in school I felt the need to do something about this national epidemic of school shootings so I came up with Operation Secure Our Schools. I hope to expand this program far beyond its current capabilities as we move forward.”
Other school districts in Genesee County employ their own security, rely on police liaison officers or contract with other security companies.
“When it comes to school security nothing is off the table. My administrative team and I continue to address how to best secure our school buildings,” said Eric Lieske, superintendent of Davison Community Schools. “We currently have school security staffed, retired law enforcement officers, by district employees as well as a School Resource Officer (SRO) that is employed through a partnership with the Davison Township Police Department.”
Lieske said the new security staffing concept offered by DM Burr is something Davison schools are currently looking into with input from Davison area police chiefs Craig (Richfield), Freeman (Davison Township), and Harris (Davison City).
According to JP Adams, Director of Operations for Grand Blanc schools, and Superintendent Clarence Gardner, the Grand Blanc School district, in addition to three school resource officers from the city and township police department, who manage security for the middle schools and high school, they also contract with another security agency for additional assistance.
Gardner said the Burr offer appeared to be a great opportunity for school districts who are at a point where they need that type of service.
In Carman-Ainsworth Community schools, Superintendent Eddie L. Kindle, Ed.S., said the district will continue to reaffirm its commitment to the safety and security of our students, staff, and families.
“We will be persistent in, reinforcing and ensuring that the safety protocols we have in place are strictly adhered to,” said Kindle. “We are confident in the relationships that we have established with our local police departments as well as our local First Responder Community.
“Through these partnerships, Carman- Ainsworth Community Schools has and will continue to invest in safety resources that provide additional layers of security district-wide.”
Kindle said the district will maintain an effort to evaluate its procedures to stay current and up-to-date with practices that enhance the safety and security of our buildings.