- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Police and firefighters in Flint have responded to an average of more than one call per day to vacant schools, which have become targets for crime and blight, according to a newspaper report.

Enrollment has been on the decline since 2003 and about two dozen buildings in Flint’s public school system currently are empty.

Authorities received 2,639 calls for service from 2010 through the end of the 2014-15 school year, The Flint Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1FL62wy ) based on statistics obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

More than 120 calls were made to 911 about Johnson Elementary, which closed in 2006. The reports included drug activity, assaults and burglary, and a 16-year-old boy died after falling 30 feet through a grate on the roof in late May.

Audio, video and entry alarm security systems typically are installed in vacant schools, while exterior doors are secured to keep people out. Trespassers and metal thieves still find their way in, leaving the buildings open.

The doors at Johnson Elementary are open, said Rick Inman Jr., whose son, Michael, was with friends when he fell through the grate.

“They’re not breaking into the building, the building’s wide open,” Inman told the newspaper. “They’re young. They’re going to do things. There’s always kids hanging around in that school.”

Since 2010, Flint police also received 49 calls of shots being fired at closed school buildings.

A homeless man was beaten to death outside of McKinley Middle School in 2013, a year after the school closed. The building is not safe, said Veronica Lewis, who lives nearby.

“I’ve seen people breaking in to the school,” she said. “They don’t cut the grass. It’s horrible.”

Police are cracking down on loitering around the buildings. Meanwhile, the school district plans to post “no trespassing” signs around the buildings and enforce its policy of keeping people off the properties, schools Superintendent Bilal Kareem Tawwab said.

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Information from: The Flint Journal, https://www.mlive.com/flint

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