Police in Lansing High Schools: Is It Working?

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Officer Antonio Sandoval's duties at Eastern High School Thursday included arresting two non-students caught inside the building.

"They came over from a different school," Sandoval said. "I was informed by another student they were in the building."

The two girls were taken to the juvenile booking center downtown, an important step, Sandoval says, because trespassers often cause problems.

"It's very important for us to get them out of the building," he said.

Eastern Principal Pamela Diggs says the program to put officers like Sandoval in Lansing's high schools is making schools safer.

"The schools were safe already, just like the malls are safe and the airport is safe. But now and then, there are issues where you'd like additional support," Diggs said.

And Sandoval is there to provide that support in terms of preventing problems from happening and responding when they do. The officer's presence has had some additional benefits.

"You get kids to report things that take place at home," Diggs said.

Those things include domestic violence, which is often hard to detect.

There are other added benefits says Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who pushed the idea of police in Lansing's high schools.

"That whole neighborhood feels good because after school, the officer's able to be there around the school," Bernero said.

School Board President Guillermo Lopez says he hears only positive things from the other principals.

Security officers work with police in the schools. One used pepper spray to disrupt a student fight at Everett High School last week.

Such incidents weren't prevented by the police presence, but when they happened, the officer was there to respond.

Lopez says the program could be tweaked in the months and years ahead.

"As we move along we'll figure other ways of making it better," he said.

So did the officers actually result in fewer incidents?

Police records for Eastern from this January compared to last January actually show more activity, much of it related to truancy and trespassing.

Those issues didn't show up in the January 2006 records, but are clearly high on officers' minds now.

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