Community Police Officers speaking to pupils earlier this school year.
PHILIPSBURG–In an effort to bridge the gap between police and pupils, under the lead of the Community Police Officers (CPOs), a programme was implemented to minimise misconceptions while cultivating friendships between law enforcement and pupils. The programme is called Cops and Kids programme.
The presence of police in the school as part of the school community indirectly lends to modifying undesirable behaviour and opens up valuable lines of communication. The programme offers the CPOs a platform to invest in the pupils of their respective districts. Key is showing their pupils a balance between the disciplinary end of the law and the lighter side of law enforcement.
They emphasise to pupils that their concerns are taken seriously and that their well-being, like that of every other community member, is of utmost importance. Out of this vision, the Cops and Kids programme was created.
Pupils engaged in a number of activities during the programme.
Cops and Kids, a multi-phased programme, was hosted by CPOs D.A. Chandler, S.P. Crispulo, S.P. Carty, E.S. Josepha, F.N. Richards, H. Cristina-Romeo, R.V. Henson and A.C. Leonard in collaboration with Priscilla S. Bell of the Inspectorate of Education for the Grade 6 pupils of the various schools. This year a total of 14 schools, that numbered approximately 450 pupils, participated in the programme.
Because of the down time for Grade 6 pupils after their Foundation-Based Education (FBE) Exit Exams, the CPOs in a collaborative effort with the schools used Cops and Kids to supplement the post-exam programmes provided by the schools. The programme comprised the following activities:
* “One on One”: Pupils submitted questions to the CPOs regarding the tasks of the Police Force which were addressed in a presentation at the different schools. Two former pupils of the school were also present to give the pupils insight on their experiences with the transition from elementary school to secondary school.
* “Open House”: Pupils were afforded the opportunity to visit different businesses on the island and receive a “behind-the-scenes” tour and explanation of the operation of the business.
* “Sports Day”: 12 schools showed their school spirit as they faced off for “bragging rights” on whose school was the most athletic.
* “The Great Debate”: Eight schools participated in the debate and the final four face off on Wednesday, June 14. as schools will prepare and defend their positions – for or against.
* “The Most Improved Pupil”: the purpose of this activity is to encourage a pupil who has worked hard consistently, overcome academic setbacks and persevered despite not finishing first or best.
The various activities were carefully layered to allow pupils and CPOs to get to know each other and then transition into the other sessions after establishing a rapport. Each activity was layered on the foundation that pupils received in their previous eight years of school and throughout their lives: sports skills, language skills, communication skills, persuasive speaking, critical listening, empathy, negotiation, leadership skills, cooperation, respect, courtesy, winning graciously, losing with dignity, time management, strategic thinking, and being encouraging and supportive.
The Cops and Kids programme only presented a platform to allow them to use these skills as a group.
Pupils speaking to one of the officers.
One noteworthy experience this year was witnessed between a mother who came out briefly to see the events and saw her son hurt when he was subbed out of the basketball game. While his response was to walk away from the court and game, his mother encouraged him to go back and support his team. She encouraged him to learn from his peers. He eventually calmed down and went back to the court and supported his school.
The focus is not solely on what pupils can learn from the CPOs or from the experience, but also creates an opportunity for CPOs to learn from pupils; to see the world from their perspective, to share learning and growing opportunities and to encourage pupils to try, persevere and embrace challenges.
These lead to opportunities to celebrate their successes – the attention is not just on whether they won, but more on the fact that they tried. The CPOs want pupils to understand that they care about the things that are important to them. Although the time for this project was short, the first and most critical steps have been taken.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/66758-cops-and-kids-programme-continues-to-create-bonds