Stories out of Ferguson, Mo., over the past several days have brought the question of community relationships with law enforcement officers to the forefront. A combative atmosphere between heavily armed police officers and civilian protesters has painted quite an adversarial picture.
But in Washington County, officers with the sheriff’s department have been placed in outposts in three schools – with more to come – in an effort to not only increase visibility and safety for students and staff, but also to help youngsters build a more trusting relationship with the men and women charged to serve and protect them.
“They do walk-throughs on a fairly regular basis,” said Wolf Creek Superintendent Bob Caldwell. “I think it shows the younger students there’s no reason to fear them and seeing them in our building, I think it assists in that.”
Partnerships between police departments and schools are important, not only as a matter of public safety in the present, but also for the future. Children who think of police officers as friends, in addition to respected authority figures, are more likely to hold on to those sentiments as they grow up.
Washington County Sheriff’s Officers and school administrators are to be commended for taking such a step to improve safety and kids’ comfort level with law enforcement while also boosting productivity for the officers.
The program is sure to reap benefits for many years to come.