Jackson-Reed joins Safe Passage initiative

Greta Bradley-Meal, Jessica McCallum, Junior Editors

Jackson-Reed joined the Safe Passage initiative, which aims to increase student safety across DC, this school year. The initiative provides Safe Passage workers who are positioned near school entrances and in hallways to ensure student safety.

Starting in 2018, Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the $4.3 million initiative with the goal of ensuring students get to and from school safely. It officially began in 2020. The initiative is in place across elementary, middle and high schools across DC, and was implemented as a response to rising violent crime in the city and as a part of the Mayor’s commitment to the safety of DC students. 

Staff also gave their opinions on the new initiative. 

“I don’t know if it’s a one to one correlation,” biology teacher Daniela Muñoz said, referring to the nearby shooting in November. “I think that our administration identified a need for a higher adult presence… any number of reasons starting with the fact that we’re overcrowded.” 

54 school sites throughout eight priority areas have been named Safe Passage schools. Jackson-Reed is a part of the Petworth-Brightwood area. These areas are chosen using Metropolitan Police Department data, DC public schools Incident Reporting Tools data, and trends in violent crimes checked quarterly. This information has led to both the Safe Passage workers at schools and metro stations, as well as Safe Spots. Safe Spots are businesses that signed up to be known businesses for students to go to when feeling unsafe; most of these safe spots are in wards 7 and 8. 

Many students were unaware of the existence of the Safe Passage initiative. “I don’t really understand why they’re there, they don’t do much except for saying hi. The school hasn’t said anything about them,” freshman Dani Ortiz said. Other students echoed this sentiment. When asked if she would feel comfortable or willing to approach the Safe Passage workers if she needed help, Ortiz responded that she likely would not; she didn’t know who they were, or what they could do. 

Safe Spot businesses, while primarily not around Jackson-Reed, were also not publicized to students or staff. Sophomore Auletta Schwab is receptive to the idea of Safe Spots. “I think that it would help keep a lot of young people safe,” Schwab said. 

The Safe Passage workers also noted different possible avenues of communication. Safe Passage coordinator Hillary Desir noted that Safe Passage workers were in contact with MPD and other officials who could be called to step in were an emergency situation to arise. However, a Safe Passage worker at Jackson-Reed said that he was not allowed to call the police or any other official; he could only inform his manager that a situation had arisen, and allow them to decide what the situation warranted.