Sept. 7, 2006 – The need to properly equip public school monitors with communication and surveillance devices was discussed during a press conference held Thursday at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School — approximately two hours after a stabbing incident occurred on the school's campus.
While the press conference was not called to discuss the stabbing, the incident was still mentioned by Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, who had come to join representatives from Project Safe Neighborhoods and the U.S. Attorney's Office in donating 33 new handheld radios and 15 digital cameras to the Department of Education.
Lewis, along with Kean Principal Sharon Ann McCollum, used the incident to emphasize the need for the additional equipment. "These resources would greatly assist the monitors in doing their jobs," Lewis said. "And when events like these occur, we especially need to make sure the monitors can communicate with each other, to keep these situations under control."
"There was an incident this morning," McCollum added. "And one of the things this equipment can do is help us document the situation, so that if we have to go to court with a student, we have evidence to show what happened."
After the conference, McCollum said the stabbing occurred between a "few young men" who brought "an existing feud onto campus."
"One of the boys we considered to be trespassing," she said. "We require that our students bring their parents to orientation, and once they do that, they are issued a school schedule. This young man had not yet been issued a schedule. But he was a student at Kean last year." The other students involved, however, were new to Kean.
While McCollum called the incident "unfortunate" — especially since Kean had resumed classes less than three weeks ago — she said that the donation would ensure that school monitors and administrators are better equipped to handle such as situation. "We want to make sure that each monitor and administrator has a radio," she said.
"Education cannot happen when there is chaos," McCollum added. "And instant communication, which these radios will provide, is the key to keeping control on campus."
She added that the equipment would also be distributed to monitors at Charlotte Amalie High School and Edith Williams Elementary School on St. Thomas, along with Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John.
During the conference, Lewis said McCollum had requested new equipment for Kean almost two years ago, and had subsequently submitted a proposal to the executive board of Project Safe Neighborhoods, of which Lewis is the chair.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and provide programs with any additional tools needed to be successful. Project Safe Neighborhoods has also been involved in other anti-gun initiatives throughout the territory, such as the "Speak Your Peace" music contest.
Funds are awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice to the local Chamber of Commerce, which acts as the fiduciary agent for Project Safe Neighborhoods.
"We're all involved in the process," James Latham, working with the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce said. "Law enforcement officials, along with community members and members of the business community are all committed to making our neighborhoods, and our schools, safer. This donation comes as a result of that commitment."
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