Detroit Policy Conference debates policing and school safety

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A discussion between Detroit Police Chief James Craig and The Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools was held at the 2018 Detroit Policy Conference.

One of the topics was how to protect school children in the age of mass shootings at the conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. The theme was civility and how to instill it into everything we do in Metro Detroit.

The 2018 Detroit Policy Conference hosted a discussion between the Detroit schools superintendent and Detroit police chief. The question was raised if chaos ensues in a Detroit Public School, should teachers have guns?

The answer from the two biggest stake holders Detroit Police Chief James Craig and DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, was an emphatic "no."

"Is it at the point where we all need to walk around with a gun?" Vitti said.

Chief Craig says yes - but only in cases where the person has had specialized training.

"Some schools don't have armed guards," Craig said. "Secondary schools do, some don't. Maybe this is an opportunity to consider it as a possible option."

There was plenty of debate and discussion at the conference.

"We will not be supportive of this and we oppose any federal or state laws that suggest teachers should be armed," Vitti said, adding that he will not allow teachers to be armed.

Craig is considering all options.

"I am willing to work with the school board and other school practitioners to come up with a solution," he said. "You are not going to make everyone happy. Let's face it, some of the anger by some behind this shows that we have a problem."

Like the principal of Detroit school Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy.
"I say no guns in Detroit Public Schools at all," Principal Jeffrey Robinson said. "This is a negative aspect of our culture we should be challenging and not accommodating."

FOX 2's Huel Perkins got to the heart of the argument for guns in schools asking Craig about a position the chief has held for years.

"In some cases an armed citizen can be a force for good, do you still believe that in light of what's happened? 

"Absolutely," Craig said. "I steadfastly take that position. I know there are a lot of conversations surrounding gun control. But we don't talk about crime control. How do we keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

And gun control for the school district is at the heart of things for them, pointing to the parkland shooting that left 17 dead as the prime example.

"If Nikolas Cruz didn't have easy access to an assault weapon, he would not have killed as many individuals as he killed," Vitti said.

The debate wasn't just about the gun issue but also the direction of Detroit Public Schools' "Blueprint 2020" the rebuilding of the district after coming out of a period with an emergency manager.