Friday, February 13, 2009

Budget cuts hurting public safety

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Feb 13 2009
By: Rick McCann
Ntl. Assoc. Private Officers —As the economy continues to be gloomy and many city and state budgets still being cut, it has begun taking a serious toll on security and our public safety.

As another sign of the times, Charlotte-Mecklenburg North Carolina Schools is looking to slash costs by doing away with some of their school security officers.

But many argue that the dollars and cents being saved by cutting some school security officers makes no sense at all.It’s the job of security associates to keep campus safe.

It looks like that job is about to become more difficult because the district is looking to cut the ranks by more than 30 percent. Some teachers believe that cut is going to make their job more dangerous.Several other school systems in Georgia, Kentucky, Arizona, and other states have already eliminated school resource officers and non-sworn security personnel in an effort to save money.

Many in those schools have voiced their opinions in disagreement with the cuts saying that they may be saving some money but at what cost.

Campus security associates in Charlotte remove disruptive students, search lockers for contraband, and protect students and teachers.Judy Kidd is president of the North Carolina Classroom Teachers Association. "It’s a safety and security issue.”Under proposed budget cuts, all high schools would only get two associates, middle schools one."We can't get proper supervision and safety with the numbers we have now,” Kidd said.In addition to being the president of the CTA, Kidd is also a teacher at Independence High School. At her school, the number of associates would be cut from six to two. And at other vulnerable schools like Garinger and West Charlotte, associates would be cut from seven to two."Our high schools are much too large,” Kidd said. “We need help in supervising. You can't say it should be left to an assistant principal.”Last week a student brought a shotgun to the Independence campus.

It was the work of a security associate that led to an arrest.“If it weren’t for the keen eyes of security associates, what would have happened there?” Sources say the school district is looking to cut more than 50 positions.The story is the same in other school systems and with other businesses using private security.

Many companies have cut security positions or done away with having them all together.

Mike Currington, general manager at Action One Security said that during times of economical hardships many companies quickly cut their maintenance and security programs thinking that they can get by without them. The truth is Currington said is that during these times is when you need security the most.

Many people are turning to crime as a way to support their families and thefts and shopliftings is on a rise as is the desperation of certain folks Currington said.

In Atlanta Georgia, a shopping center that employed two security officers to patrol during business hours is down to one and some security managers expect to loose other contracts or see account hours dwindle as the recession lingers.


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