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Macomb County Schools to Undergo Risk Assessments

These are a few of the security measures initiated during construction of the new school or implemented following a school safety assessment by the county's school safety coordinator, Jim Burke.

school bus
(TNS) - Meghan Evoy used to have a parking space reserved for her being she's the principal of her school.

But that made her a target.

"There's no reserve parking here," Evoy said of Peck Elementary's new state-of-the-art school built a little over two years ago.

There's also no trees or bushes blocking windows. It has a vestibule style entry (double doors) that prevents anyone from getting into the school without permission from the front office, and if she ever finds herself in an active shooter situation, Evoy has access to 30 cameras and a lockdown button that will add another layer of security to her school.

These are a few of the security measures initiated during construction of the new school or implemented following a school safety assessment by the county's school safety coordinator, Jim Burke.

"We conduct a comprehensive study of the school. It's not just physical. We gather data about the school's demographics and location," said Burke, who is preparing to do another round of assessments.

He then provides the school with a follow-up report containing safety considerations, including recommendations for potential security enhancements, policy and protocol updates, school climate and training for staff based on national best practices and what a school is able to do.

Center Line Public Schools' Peck Elementary is among the schools participating in a partnership between Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications and the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) that will allow risk and vulnerability assessments to be conducted.

Since the program began in 2019, 14 public school districts representing 146 schools have entered into letters of agreement with the county in order to have assessments conducted at their buildings, with costs covered by Michigan Department of Education funding.

All schools, public and private, are eligible to participate in the program.

"These assessments provide important insights into potential security improvements, ensuring that our students, educators and staff have a safe and secure learning environment," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel "Through the long-standing partnership with the MISD and other local school districts, we are demonstrating our commitment to prioritizing the safety and well-being of our community."

Evoy said she's surprised more schools are not participating in the program.

"He spent time at each building and if we had a question he was always available," Evoy said, noting her school also works closely with a Center Line Public Safety Officer.

"Macomb County Emergency Management, the Macomb Intermediate School District and 21 local school districts have been working closely together on school safety for well over 20 years," said Macomb Intermediate School District Superintendent Mike DeVault. "I'm grateful for the partnership between County Executive Hackel's office and emergency management that has resulted in many safety initiatives, and I'm proud of the work we have done on risk and vulnerability assessment."

Four-years ago Macomb County Emergency Management formed a school safety section to further strengthen the connections between schools, government and public safety. This section has been instrumental in supporting the school safety committee that's been operational for several decades, conducting risk assessments, updating emergency operations plans, conducting training and developing programs related to Behavioral Threat Assessment.

"In May of 2019 the County of Macomb and the Macomb ISD recognized the growing need for expertise in school safety," said Brandon Lewis, director, Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications.

So, they applied for a grant and with the $315,000 award received were able to hire Burke, the former Harper Woods public safety director, as a permanent safety school coordinator.

"It is through his efforts, and those of the emergency management staff, that we have earned the trust of our local schools and are looked to as the experts in updating them on best practices," Lewis said.

Burke said he has gotten great feedback from the schools, noting that most of them have had at least two assessments done since the program started including Peck Elementary.

'We stay on top of the information," Burke said, and that's shared with the schools. "I think having someone in the Emergency Management office who's just looking at school safety is beneficial."

For more information on Macomb County Emergency Management and its school safety initiatives, visit

©2023 The Macomb Daily, Mount Clemens, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.