Schools want deputies present

Schools want deputies present

Staff WriterJuly 9, 2005 

THE ISSUE: Why are sheriff's deputies staking out the Durham Public Schools' administration building, and who foots the bill?

STATUS: The school district pays the salary of a Durham County deputy to be posted outside the Fuller Building on Cleveland Street during business hours five days a week.

THE DEAL: Daytime visitors to the district's central offices will always find at least one deputy cooling his or her heels in a car parked in direct view of the building's main doors. The deputies sit, watching everyone who goes in and out.

The deputies have been keeping watch over the building for about three years, Maj. Lucy Zastrow of the Durham County Sheriff's Office said. The decision to do so stemmed from the district's concerns about unruly visitors, break-ins to cars parked in the lot and homeless loiterers, Zastrow said.

The school system hired off-duty officers to provide the security until last year, when the district budget included the deputy's salary, about $30,000. The sheriff's office picks up the rest of the cost, including the car, training and uniform.

More officers provide security for Durham's notoriously raucous school board meetings in the building. At those meetings, usually at night, some critics of the school board have ended up in handcuffs.

In the three years since the daytime deputies have guarded the building, Tina Ingram, schools security director, is unaware of any serious troubles.

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