Safe Distance: A Program Intended to Increase Distance Learning


The cornerstone to upward mobility in society is a solid education.  All students must be afforded the opportunity to obtain such an education in a safe and stable learning environment.  Sadly, the pandemic exposed and exacerbated the many inequities that have long plagued inner-city school districts.  These issues include decaying school buildings and insufficient digital infra- structures that can be traced back to funding disparities.  The middle of 2020 saw school districts shut their doors and move to digital platforms in response to COVID-19.  Extraordinary acts of generosity helped the Detroit Public Community School District (the District) narrow the digital learning divide.  Foundations and Corporations donated laptops and hotspots for distance learning.  Mostly used for safe learning, some students using their devices to bully, taunt, recruit gang members, start and perpetuate beefs which ultimately lead to real life violence, as evidenced by Detroit’s rise in violence in 2020.  All of which are putting more strain on the District’s ability to educate its kids in a safe environment.

Prior to the pandemic, the DCC had already formed a partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District Department of Public Safety (DPSCPD) to provide analytical support.  Using advanced data gathering software and graduate level intelligence analysts, the DCC’s mission was to assist DPSCPD’s only gang detective to harvest public facing data (public records, social media, official reports, etc.) with the goal of identifying and preventing acts of violence too, and by, DPSCPD students.

Harvested data was used to identify instances of:

–              Cyber-bullying

–              Taunting

–              Beefing, especially beefs that had gang related overtones, and

–              Gang recruiting activities around public schools

Any adverse information discovered would be forwarded to school officials for follow-up.

This initiative seeks to continue and expand this partnership with DPSCPD wherein the DCC augments their efforts with a graduate level intelligence analyst.  A properly trained analyst who is unburdened by day-to-day police operations that gathers, layers, and analyzes data from disparate systems and intended to give the District a greater understanding of the environment outside the walls of the school.