CITY OF ST. JOSEPH, MO
Mayor Larry R. Stobbs

SCHOOL SAFETY

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The City of Saint Joseph, Missouri is located 32 miles north of Kansas City. The city occupies 44.5 square miles and has a population of 71,852. There are more than 12,000 students in the city's primary and secondary public and private schools. They are educated in 31 separate school buildings.

The St. Joseph Police Department, a department of 109 commissioned officers, does not have a D.A.R.E. program, but conducts school safety programs. This responsibility has primarily been the responsibility of one officer. Unfortunately, besides the efforts of the school safety officer, the only contact between police officers and students has traditionally been of an enforcement nature. Consequently, the relationship between students and police officers is often less then amicable. This poor relationship makes it difficult when the officers must interact with students.

St. Joseph has long experienced the following problems with school age children:

    • Underage drinking;
    • DWI;
    • Youth involved vehicle collisions;
    • Disorderly conduct and fighting;
    • Use of illegal drugs;
    • Criminal mischief and vandalism.

The program is based upon oral agreements between the police department and the three (3) school districts. The basic agreement is between the Chief of Police and the superintendents. However, each officer has individual agreements with the principals.

Summary:

This program is a unique approach to the common problem of police school/student alienation. Few additional funds are required for this program, yet the expected results should have a tremendous impact upon youth crime, discipline, and safety. Though the school district and the police department will monitor the program and provide guidance to participants, the program is designed to allow for maximum input from those involved. This structure will give participants authorship and ownership of the program, thereby resulting in relevant efforts to address identified problems. The school district and the police department will ensure that participants receive recognition for their efforts.

We anticipate that after the program is in operation for one (1) full year, many innovative projects will have been initiated with dramatic results.

2. When was the program created and why?

The police department entered into an agreement with the St. Joseph School District and the city's two (2) private school districts to introduce police officers into the school setting for the purpose of establishing a good relationship between police officers and students, school staff, and neighborhood residents adjacent to schools. This program was initiated in the late spring of 1998. The following is a brief overview of the initial stages of this project:

    • Each officer is assigned two (2) schools;
    • The school safety officer introduces the officer to the school's principal, staff, and students;
    • Officers are required to visit each school twice per week;
    • Officers are required to keep a record of their activities within each school;
    • Officers are encouraged to participate in school programs and are given time for participation;
    • Schools provide officers free admission to school events, as well as free lunches if the officer wishes to eat with the children;
    • Officers are provided with resources to initiate and sustain school programs.
    • Though officers are given guidance concerning program development, they are encouraged to develop individual programs for each school and its needs.
    • The school resource officer is responsible for tracking the activities of officers in the schools, arrange resources for the officers, and act as a liaison between the officers and the school district.

3. How do you measure the program's effectiveness?

Because this project is in its infancy, little data exists to assess effectiveness. However, thus far school principals and staff are overwhelmingly happy with the program. It appears that police officers in schools are also popular with the students.

4. How is the program financed?

This program is supported by the existing budgets of the school districts and the police department.

5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all. How has the community responded to the program?

Police officers and schools are in the planning stages for activities to commence with the start of school in September. As the school year progresses, various student clubs will become increasingly involved in the project. Officers will contact each of the city's forty-two (42) neighborhood associations for their input into this project. This project will also be discussed with the Chamber of Commerce prior to the end of this year.

6. Contact person:

James Montgomery

Police Chief

501 Faraon Street

St. Joseph, Missouri 64501

Tel: (816) 271-4701

Fax: (816) 271-4793

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