AFTER SCHOOL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The following after school programs were put in place by the Pawtucket Police Department.
Community Policing Sports Programs- Police received many complaints from citizens and neighbors. About young adults loitering, vandalizing, drinking liquor and just being disorderly within certain neighborhoods. To combat this problem the Community Police Unit took an innovative approach to getting the kids off the streets by establishing, operating and participating in the sports programs
The Community Police Unit targeted these neighborhoods and found that the complaints were justified. To address these problem neighborhoods the Community Police Units formulated a "Sports Activity Program." The goal was to get the youths off the streets with getting positive interaction between the neighborhood businesses and citizens.
As a result, of the sports program overall crime reported in the target neighborhood DECREASED 45%. This was during and six months after the program first began. Neighborhood youths became more respectful and responsive to the community. This was a direct result of the community and businesses purchasing sports equipment, uniforms and accessories for the young citizens in the neighborhood.
To instill responsibility and self-esteem for the youth that participated in the program the Community Police Unit created a program entitled "Parkership." Before all sporting events members of the Community Police Unit would transport the youths to parks and playgrounds within the city. The youths would then clean up the area by pick up debris and items that littered the ground. As a result, not only did this instill responsibility but created civic pride between the youths and the community. A community that once looked upon their youth as troubled and non-productive now looked at them with pride and hope for the future. Therefore, the sporting program is an essential element for solidifying the community and its youth as well as reducing overall crime in the targeted neighborhoods. Some sports activities and events created by the Community Police Unit are:
The Pawtucket Community Soccer League
The Pawtucket Community Soccer League, is a collaborative effort of The Pawtucket Community Police Unit and The Community Partnership for Substance abuse Prevention, operates under the American Youth Soccer Organization Guidelines. The league was formed in response to the city's Hispanic population with given young Hispanic an alternative from just loitering on citiesí streets. The league helps young people develop a positive self image, self confidence and other positive character traits through their interest and participation in soccer. About 65 youths participate.
Spring League: A collaborative effort with the Community Partnership developed into a basketball tournament. That was held at Slater Jr. High school were about 50 youths between the ages of 13 to 18 participated. The spectator attendance revealed that this type of program could be successful if opened up to the entire city.
Summer League: Community police teamed up with the Community Partnership and the Pawtucket Parks and Recreation to form ten teams. About 175 city youths between the ages of 13 to 18 played twice per week for a total of sixteen games. A new three on three format was created so more youths could participate. The program concluded with an All-Star game against the Pawtucket police. With the assistance of local businesses, D.A.R.E. officers and the Pawtucket Housing Authority, trophies and jackets were awarded to the top two teams.
Winter League: The Community Police Unit and the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club joined resources to form the winter league. About 250 city youths between the ages of 13 to 18 participated in the league. Youths played twice per week and the program continued into February 1998. The program gave city youths a positive alternative during the harsh winter months.
The West Avenue Community Center has existed for the past two (2) years with the help and support of the City of Pawtucket, Pawtucket Police Department, many volunteers and the commitment and dedication of the PAL Board of Directors. The center was established to provide a positive alternative to street crimes such as, loitering, vandalism graffiti, etc. The center's mission has expanded to include services directed at the City's adult population. Outreach to the City's diverse minority population plays an important role in the various programs offered at the center.
Presently the center is staffed by two full-time Community Police Officers and three part-time support staff members. Other Community Police Officers and volunteers are on hand at no cost.
The Pawtucket PAL was formed to achieve the objective of promoting the physical, mental and moral well-being of the children of the City of Pawtucket. It is a further objective of the Pawtucket PAL to instill in children the ability to participate in team sports and to compete in a fair and sportsmanlike manner, which in turn prepares children for the challenges and responsibility of adulthood and citizenship.
Additionally, it is the objective of the Pawtucket PAL to instruct children of the democratic principals and traditions upon which our society is based and to strengthen the sense of community and a relationship between the children of the City of Pawtucket and the Pawtucket Police Department.
Pawtucket PAL is more than a sports and recreation program, in that the Pawtucket PAL strives to develop responsibility, character and leadership values in boys and girls, while generating their respect for law and order, and for the men and women who uphold the law as their livelihood. The Pawtucket PAL endeavors to enhance a child's self respect and esteem by channeling their energies and worthwhile directions, supporting and encouraging interest during a child's impressionable years.
The Pawtucket Community Police Unit also works with the Barton Street Community Center. In turn, the Barton Street Community Center has continued the relationship and combined forces with the Pawtucket PAL. When the Pawtucket PAL opened and began programming, the Barton Street Community Center supplied support and combined programming and events. By collaborating with the Barton Street Community Center, we have pulled together resources and membership to reach beyond our goals and create a more diverse and peaceful community.
Some of the programs conducted at the centers for 1998 included but, were not limited to the following:
Tides Family Servicesprovides programming for at-risk and delinquent youth. The programs include a youth diversion, truancy program, Hispanic Outreach program, Tides Outreach Program, and a Learning Center. Tides provides trained counselors, social service professionals and a certified teacher to work with the youth and parents of youth referred through the courts, schools and other agencies. By collaborating with Tides Family Services, we can offer professional services to our at-risk and troubled youth.
The Rhode Island Childrenís Crusade for Higher Education/AmeriCorpsis a statewide dropout prevention program. Through the technical support of their professional staff. The AmeriCorps volunteers have organized and expand structured programs that meet the needs of educationally at-risk students.
The Pawtucket PAL assisted the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program (BVCAP) with their Summer Youth Employment and Training Program. The Pawtucket PAL supervised eight BVCAP workers as they provided staff assistance to complete the program.
The Pawtucket PAL provided the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative a work site for students who wish to begin careers in counseling or becoming a police officer. The Northern Rhode Island Collaborative operates a Regional Vocational Assessment and Transition Development Center (RVATDC) where juveniles learn what is required of jobs before they enter them as careers. The program encourages students to earn better grades to help them excel in their chosen profession.
The Pawtucket PAL assisted the Children's Intensive Services Department of the Community Counseling Center in a case of a child who witnessed a violent incident. The counselor believed the incident triggered a hatred toward police officers. After several sessions, progress was made with the child.
In addition to the daily open recreational offerings, board games, library, arts and crafts, ping-pong, pool tables, bumper pool, karate, boxing, weight lifting and basketball, we have been able to operate homework clubs, girls focus groups and field trips.
SUMMARY OF PROGRAMS AT THE PAL COMMUNITY CENTER
During the first year the Pawtucket PAL Community Center was open, over 660 boys and girls participated in programs at the center. All programs are free of charge to all juveniles. Of the 660 children registered at the PAL, 432 are boys and 226 are girls, 173 are white and 485 are minorities. Current-center offerings includes:
TIDES LEARNING CENTER:During the school day students who are suspended, expelled or between schools in the Cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls are referred to Tides Family Services Learning Center. The students maintain credits while attending and completing school work assigned to them. The students are instructed by a certified teacher.
GIRLS FOCUS GROUP: Weekly meetings offer discussion groups for 25 teenage women and girls. The effort is coordinated by a community resident who is an elementary school principal. Educational sessions include HIV education, pregnancy prevention and substance abuse awareness. The program celebrates cultural diversity and family appreciation.
TIDES HOMEWORK CLUB: Weekly scheduled classes provide assistance and support to troubled, at-risk, and delinquent youth. This program includes the members of the center, that may not apply to these categories, to provide an educational and dropout prevention program.
PARENT GROUP: Tides Family Services work with parents of at risk youth including family members of the community center. Parents meet weekly at the center to support and learn from each other.
BOXING PROGRAM: The Community Police Unit established and operates a boxing club within the Barton Street Neighborhood Center. The club operates on a daily basis where participation ranges from 15 to 45 teens daily. Qualified instructors (some from within CPU) help teens develop positive skills and self confidence. The Community Police Unit is responsible for holding boxing exhibitions that help in the purchase of a boxing ring for the club. The program involves a strict regimen of exercise along with a requirement of good grades and good character is expected. This program is responsible for keeping many city youths of the streets with giving them a means to vent frustration and build endurance.
KARATE CLASSES:CPU established and operates a karate instruction club within the Barton Street Neighborhood Center. Qualified instructors instruct about 40 to 50 males and females. The program helps teens develop positive skills and self confidence.
WEIGHT LIFTING PROGRAM: Teenagers, 12 years of age and older, use the weight room to improve their performance in related sports.
ARTS AND CRAFTS PROGRAM: This program is available every day after school for the boys and girls.
BASKETBALL LEAGUE: The basketball league was coordinated with the Barton Street Community Center. During the past summer 250 young people played in the basketball league.
FEDERAL LUNCH PROGRAM: The center is a meal site for eligible participants. This summer sixty boys and girls participated in the program.
OPEN RECREATION: Boys and girls come to the center for open recreation at any time during the hours of operation. The open recreation INCLUDES: a piano, library, ping-pong, bumper pool. two pool tables, and board games. Also available are footballs and basketball to be utilized at Payne Park (Payne Park is directly across form the PAL Community Center).
PAWTUCKET SOAPBOX DERBY: The Pawtucket PAL sponsored 5 members to build and race soapbox racers. The 5 drivers had pit crews" to assist them in the event.
2. When were the programs created and why?
In response to the recent increase in youth violence at the state level and here in Pawtucket, the State Attorney General in 1993 created the Attorney Generalís Task Force to Prevent Violence in Schools. As a result, the above mentioned state laws and programs were enacted. The Zero Tolerance policy was implemented by The Pawtucket School Department in 1994. It was implemented to decrease and prevent violence within the entire city school system, to include: assisting schools in creating awareness and education about Zero Tolerance and it consequences. The "PLUS" peer mediation program was implemented in 1994. The purpose of the program is to work with young children and teach them how to deal with conflicts and problems in their lives.
The Pawtucket PAL program was formed to achieve the objective of promoting the physical. mental and moral well-being of the children of the City of Pawtucket. It is a further objective of the Pawtucket PAL to instill in children the ability to participate in team sports and to compete in a fair and sportsmanlike manner, which in turn prepares children for the challenges and responsibility of adulthood and citizenship. Additionally, it is the objective of the Pawtucket PAL to instruct children of the democratic principals and traditions upon which our society is based and to strengthen the sense of community as well as a relationship between the children of the City of Pawtucket and the Pawtucket Police Department.
3. How do you measure the programsí effectiveness?
The above described prevention programs and enacted State Laws have proven to be very effective in reducing and preventing violence crimes within the Pawtucket School System. All students are now responsible for their individual actions. All students are aware that illegal or unwanted acts on school property have internal and criminal penalties. As a result, Pawtucket Schools have greatly decreased the number of school violence incidents. The Pawtucket School Department is pleased to say that since the implementation and/or participated of the outlined programs, no serious acts of violence have occurred on school property.
The peer mediation program is very successful. It has changed the attitudes and behavior of children with teaching them how to deal with problems and conflicts in their lives. The program shows young children that they have choices in dealing with conflicts, and that alternatives to violence do exist. The PLUS program gives elementary students an opportunity to learn how to mediate and resolve conflicts. As a result, the program is an effective way to breaking the cycle of violence in Pawtucket Schools.
The PAL centers youth programs foster positive attitudes and behaviors critical to the re-direction and prevention away from crime, substance abuse and dropping out of school. Although the Pawtucket PAL Community center has only been open for two (2) years, our capacity to provide educational, recreational and social programming has vastly increased. A testament to our success is John Lantiago. John is a member of the Pawtucket PAL. We noticed his leadership ability and encouraged him be a role model for the children of the center. John began to volunteer and donated numerous hours of service to the children of the center. Also, John was awarded the Pawtucket Teen Hall of Fame Award for service to the community.
4. How are the programs financed?
Programs are funded by Federal, State, Local and Private grants. The PLUS program is funded by the CARISLE Foundation of Framingham, Massachusetts. Due to the funding by this foundation in 1998, the program will expand into five additional school districts.
5. How is the community involved in the programs? How has the community responded to the programs?
The local Parent Teachers Association (PTA) have aided the School Department in promoting the message that school violence will not be tolerated. Local media and press have focused on school violence prevention programs not only school violence incidents. A Private/Public Partnership has been established to promote the message of Zero Tolerance. Dominos Pizza of Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts, have created zero tolerance coupons and are offered to customers for discounts on menu items. Over 500,000 coupons were distributed in a six (6) month period, helping to spread the word and awareness on zero tolerance. Numerous businesses and citizens aid the Community Police Unit in the daily operations of the PAL centers. working together really does make a difference.
6. What are the major lessons learned from the programs?
Providing a safe and discipline learning environment in which our children can learn is a worthy priority. That effective partnerships between State and Local government, Business and Local Community are essential to combat school violence. In todayís schools internal and criminal penalties are important for maintaining law and order within our schools. After school programs such as the PAL program are very instrumental in keeping the young people active after school hours.
7. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.