The Hazelwood Police Department (HPD) is sharing some of its successes with a “Kids & Cops” program that was implemented back in 2016 which has grown ever since. As part of the department’s Community Outreach policing philosophy, the HPD administered this program where it takes the police officers, who routinely patrol specific neighborhoods, and places them in the local elementary school on a bi-monthly basis.
These are not School Resource Officers or D.A.R.E. Officers, but rather regular Patrol Officers the students would see or interact with in their neighborhood when not in school. The program was designed to help ease any fears or anxieties that children may have about police officers in hopes of building better relationships as they get older. It was also created to promote a positive relationship between the officers and school staff; along with giving the Officers an opportunity to be physically present in the schools to enable them to become more familiar with the respective building/structure layout.
During the 2016-2017 year, the program brought 23 of the 29 uniformed Patrol Officers into the four public elementary schools in the City of Hazelwood. Each Officer spent on average about an hour and a half with students in grades 3 through 5. Much of this time was spent with these kids during lunch or recess hours.
For the 38-week school year, Officers were there 20 of those weeks (holiday breaks are excluded.) On average, the HPD devoted 5.25 man hours per week, with a total of 1o0.5 hours for the year.
For the 2017-2018 school year, the HPD increased its participation in this program by joining with two private schools within its municipality. The Blossom Wood Day School on Howdershell Road and the Christian Academy on Latty Avenue were the participating private elementary schools. This brought the department’s numbers to 150 hours for the school year and increased the number of children who interacted with HPD Officers.
In general, the HPD is well on its way to addressing the public safety concerns in the community and hopefully can continue the interactions and work towards better relationships overall as the children grow up.
The Hazelwood Police Department conducts an annual review at the end of each school year and is actively looking on how to make improvements and continue the program for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.