PRICHARD’S COMBAT AGAINST SCHOOL VIOLENCE
1. Briefly describe the structure of the program.
Prichard Police Department and Mobile Public High Schools in the City of Prichard established a strategy to reduce the amount of school violence in the communities. Prichard has a population of 36,000 residents and we only have two-(2) Senior High Schools, no middle schools and Eight–(8) Elementary Schools and two-(2) private schools. Our goal was to establish a partnership with the High Schools in the Community. It is the Prichard Police Departments goal to establish Community Oriented Policing constantly at all times when patrolling the community.
We visited each school to see what problems the principals, faculty and students were experiencing. We found that each high school had a major problem with trespassers coming on the campus during lunch waves and after school. Therefore, we made sure that a patrol unit is place in the vicinity during those hours of the day at each school. This has eliminated the trespassing tremendously at both schools.
We have zero tolerance with trespassers during these hours of the day and the students have said that they feel better knowing that an officer of the Prichard Police Department is in the area to assist the security guard at the school, if needed.
This has cut down on the following vices that were taking place either at one or both of the High Schools in the community.
Our goal was to provide a program where as the students would feel safer coming to and from school at the end of the day. At the close of school for 1997, there were no fights or any type of violence display on or off campus at the end of the school year.
The Prichard Police Department has been using aggressive police tactics to make illicit drug and criminal activity unprofitable and uncomfortable for the criminals. As the citizens and the students realize the effectiveness of the units being station at the schools and visibility of the patrol cars in the neighborhood has become a very real factor.
We felt that quarterly meeting with the principals, faculty, students and residents in the surrounding area of both schools to monitor the decrease or increase in the progress of the program.
Phase II of this strategy is to place a Resource Officer in each high school or provide a class room for the Resource officer to provide information on the following topics:
The Resource Officer will participate in programs at all public schools in the City of Prichard within the 1998-1999 School Year to give talks with the Elementary Schools and High School students. Since we do not have middle schools in the area, we are planning to include the 5th graders at eight –(8) Public Elementary Schools in Prichard and educate them on saying "No" to joining a gang, drugs and other vices which may serve as a deterrent from education. The Resource Officer will be a role model for all students.
Plans are to have the Resource Officer start a Junior Police Program and other positive programs to improve police/youth relationships.
We will be asking all schools to provide a bulletin board for the officer to post material pertaining to the different vices. It will also serve as a contact board for students who may be having problems and may need to speak with the Resource Officer.
It is our goal for 1998-1999 school year to provide Blount High School with cameras in their hall ways and maybe outside where students and faculty parks. By applying for the School-Based Partnership Grant for 1999.
We would only be able to work with only one high school under this grant. We chose Blount High, because it is in need of help in this respect. We will continue to work with Vigor High School in the same respect using other grant funds to assist.
2. When was the program created and why?
We started our program in 1997 with Blount and Vigor High Schools. We had the Principal from each school or a representative to attend a meeting at the City of Prichard with the Prichard Police Department. The Mayor and Chief Gwendolyn Boyd wanted to know from each Principal, in what way could the Police Department make things better at their school. Each principal began to elaborate on the problems that he/she felt was important. But the main problem was that both high schools were experiencing the same problem with trespassers during the Lunch Wave and After School.
We later visited the each school and spoke with faculty members and students to see what kind of reports they had to offer. The students were very helpful and out spoken to the concerns of a patrol unit being park or visible during the periods mention above. During the meetings at the school, we found out that there was prostitution taking place near the schools. Each school only has one security guard working during those hours. Young ladies leaving school to sell their bodies. How observed! Guys coming onto the school campus picking them up and most of them were leaving without getting an early dismal pass.
That’s when the Chief Boyd suggested that the Prichard Police Department post patrol cars in visibility at the schools during those critical periods of the day.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
We measured the attendance in classes after these hours during the day. We showed that before the patrol unit was posted outside, the attendance was very low. Knowing the visibility of the patrol units were available, absenteeism began to improve. Plus the many other vice activities that were being carry out came to a hold. So we do not curve the truancy we stop a lot of other activities on the campus during those hours.
Each school has an attendance counselor who keeps up with the absentees from classes. Records are kept by the counselor at each school on attendance on a daily basis. We monitor the burglaries in the community through 911 calls and records in the Prichard Police Department. We also meet with the students who assist the Prichard Police Department as to the improvement in which they have notice from the information they have given us to implement. They are the first to notice if there has been an improvement or no improvement at all. The students see and know everything that is going on in the school.
4. How is the program financed?
We use funds from our Local Law Enforcement Block Grants that we have been receiving over the last two years to provide extra policing in the area communities and schools.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all. How has the community responded to the program?
Community Watch programs that have been established in the neighborhoods. The help from these organizations has resulted in the decrease of vices in the community near the schools. They work well in helping to assist the patrol officers with information. We have work with our community watch organizations explaining the importance of taking tag numbers and good descriptions of the suspects committing the crimes. This information has played a vital part in helping the Police Department solve crimes within the City of Prichard.
There are thirty-(30) Watch Groups throughout the City of Prichard. All groups are active and work hard to support the efforts of the Prichard Police Department.
The community oriented policing is administered and recommend that all Patrol Officers practice being more actively involved and interact with the community and the local business. Self-help programs such as Neighborhood Beautification are being undertaken.
The community has responded well to the concept and in the neighborhoods where the high schools are located we have notice that burglaries in the homes have decreased.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.