Thursday, April 18, 2013

Partnership with Police ~ School Safety A~Z

I cannot emphasize how important the partnership between the police department and the school department is to school safety.

A few years ago I attended a full day workshop titled " Educating the Traumatized Child".  One of the presenters spoke about the need for communications between the police department and schools.  He gave a great example of a incident where a man was arrested for physically  hurting a woman by hitting her with a gun.  The man was hauled off in cuffs, the woman was taken to the hospital.  The 7 year old kid accompanied his mom to the hospital.  They returned home around 3am, the son was put on the bus at 8am.  This happened on a Thursday.  Friday morning the kid was talking at school about a gun.  Tuesday the mom was called into the principals office and the police were notified that they needed to check the home for a gun because the kid said he had a gun.

What was wrong with this scenario?

There are many things.  First and foremost the child witnessed a traumatic event & then went to school the next day.  How could he have been learning while I am sure he was thinking about what had happened the night before to his family?  There was no communication between the police department and the school department.  It took the school from Friday until Tuesday to address the issue.  Too much time.  What if the kid really did have a gun on Friday?  Three days is a lot of time & something terrible could have happened, but luckily did not.

The point of the example was to talk about what needs to happen between a police department and the school department.  Communication is key to the partnership.  Now in Plymouth MA,  when there is a police action and a child is present, the Sargent makes a phone call to the school department.  We have school resource officers in our district, and communication is made to them of any situations where children may have been present.  This way administration can check in with the child to make sure they are ok, or if they need any help or attention.  It is also helpful to know why a child might possibly be acting out if they had had a bag night the night before.

Secondly, a partnership needs to be in place in order to have successful lock down drills.  Open communication and working together for the safety of our kids is top priority.  When we do lock down drills in Plymouth MA, our police department works with surrounding towns law enforcement, County Sheriffs department and State Troopers to make sure there is the back up if needed, and that information is recorded.  That way we know who is available in case of an emergency.  That is part of the drill.

Plymouth Police Conduct Emergency Lock Down
Plymouth Public SchoolS Safety First

Lastly the partnership is critical because we want our students to have a friendly relationship with the police and not have a negative perception of law enforcement.  It is a common occurrence to have police cars outside of our schools, and that is not a bad thing.  Prevention and education are part of the partnership.

Does your school district have a good relationship with your Police Department?  Do you really even know?  Ask your principal.

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