- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2004

D.C. officials are expected to present a plan next week designed to improve security in the city’s public schools.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey is expected to present the plan to Mayor Anthony A. Williams on Tuesday, after the mayor returns from an overseas trip.

“We need to make every school safe,” the mayor’s spokesman, Tony Bullock, said yesterday.

The guidelines will address concerns raised by the fatal shooting of a student at Ballou High School in Southeast on Feb. 2.

James Richardson, 17, a junior at Ballou, was shot and killed outside the school’s cafeteria. Thomas Boykin, 18, a Ballou senior, is charged with second-degree murder in the case. An 18-year-old student who was wounded is recovering from a leg wound.

Mr. Bullock said the plan would be discussed with City Administrator Robert C. Bobb and Deputy Mayor Margret Nedelkoff Kellems before it is made public. Mrs. Kellems oversees the city’s public safety and justice programs.

“Our hope is that whatever is proposed for Ballou will become the model for other schools throughout the District,” Mr. Bullock said.

The plan places Chief Ramsey and the Metropolitan Police Department in control of security in the city’s 167 public schools. It involves a mix of uniformed police officers and contract security personnel. It will include surveillance cameras, hardwired alarms on unguarded entrance doors, and other technology.

Ballou has 120 doors that open to the outside. At the time of the shooting, only two of those doors had metal detectors. Police believe the weapon used in the shooting was brought into the building through one of the unprotected doors.

“We want to have enough doors to comply with the fire code, and we want to have surveillance on those doors that are not guarded,” Mr. Bullock said.

Officials were not clear on what adding security to all the city’s high schools would cost. Although metal detectors are available in some schools, there are no X-ray machines. Screenings and searches could cause bottlenecks at the beginning of each school day, so staggered start times also may be considered.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, visited Ballou yesterday afternoon.

“I come out of the same type of community,” Mr. Sharpton told reporters. He noted that he was raised by a single parent who was also a welfare recipient. “Violence is not the answer,” he said.

“Based on Al Sharpton’s history of involvement in social issues and his personal background, the students may benefit from hearing him speak,” said William Lockridge, a member of the D.C. school board.

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