DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit Police announced improvements to a community program after a truancy sweep in northwest Detroit on Thursday caught up with 63 students who were skipping school.
Police said several community groups and law enforcement agencies will take part in “Operation Safe Passage.” The program was developed to help provide truant students with needed resources and mentoring as part of a new effort to crack down on kids that skip school.
U.S. District Attorney Barbara McQuade tells WWJ, Safe Passage is especially helpful to students who have been expelled from school.
“A lot of schools want to have zero tolerance for troubled kids. It’s very understandable. If you’ve got a kid in school you don’t want kids making trouble for them. But if you simply expel these kids, what happens to them? They’re out on the streets committing crimes, exposed to more violence. That is not the solution. So, instead, these great minds, these great innovators have come up with an alternative,” McQuade said.
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said his department picked up over 12,000 youth last year for criminal activity when they should have been in school.
“We have young people that are out and unsupervised and have some unmitigated, unresolved issues. So, if we can use that time in a productive way to address some of the socio-economic issues that have caused the child to be in the predicament in the first place, we help our cause in a much greater way,” Godbee said.
In addition to the Detroit Police and Wayne County Sheriff, Operation Safe Passage now includes partners like the U.S. District Attorney’s Office and Children’s Aid Society.
These partners will mentor truant students, offer them needed resources and get them involved in community service.
Detroit Police Officer Monica Evans, who coordinated the program, said the goal is to provide students with the help they need to stay in school.
“Our goal is to understand the needs that are at home, if we need to help parents. There are children that were homeless, that had gone from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. So, there was no school for them to be at continually,” Evans said.
(Copyright 2011 by WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved.)