SAFE SCHOOL PLAN
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
Hampton City Schools has a very broad and aggressive Safe School Plan that encompasses all facets of the community. The plan includes a community-based advisory committee. School representatives include administrators, teachers, counselors, custodians, students, parents and School Board members. Representatives from community agencies include the Court Services Unit, Police Division, Youth Coalition, Parks and Recreation, Neighborhood Services, Social Services, Public Transportation and the Health Department.
The advisory committee was put together in 1990, to organize all pre-existing school-community safety programs an a comprehensive Safe School Guide resulted. The Guide includes prevention, intervention and postvention activities covering every aspect of student, staff and community safety. These include safe school curriculum and training, communication strategies, emergency procedures, crisis intervention, travel safety, and community response teams. The committee members canvas their respective agencies and groups in order to determine safety needs and concerns. These needs and concerns are then reviewed with the Chief of Police and Superintendent of schools to determine the best way to access the resources.
As a result of this partnership, the Hampton Police Division provides a cadre of programs and services within the plan that respond to the specific needs of the schools and community. The participation of the Police Division on this advisory committee enables immediate exchange of ideas and reporting of concerns. For this reason, Hampton has a very comprehensive safety plan, with services for students from pre-school through high school. Some of the specific components are highlighted below.
The original programming began in the early 1970’s with the Officer Friendly Program to establish rapport among elementary students, teachers and parents. The uniformed officer visits classes with a curriculum designed to teach students about law enforcement, their rights and responsibilities as citizens, while encouraging them to form positive attitudes towards their welfare and the welfare of others. Each school is able to schedule the visits of Officer Friendly so that presentations are made to all classes. Officer Friendly is also available for follow-ups when needed or to counsel individual students. Officer Friendly continues to excite elementary students and has improved the way young people perceive police officers.
In 1980, the School Anti-Crime Detail was formed to address the problems of truants committing burglaries. Currently called the School Enforcement Unit, these two (2) plainclothes officers provide surveillance to school campuses in an unmarked vehicle on a daily basis. While their initial responsibility was to the middle and high schools, the officers also monitor elementary and alternative sites within the city. Additionally, these officers monitor bus stops or any area designated as an area of concern. Equipped with video surveillance cameras, the officers film student activity in parking lots, at bus stops and at athletic events. The tapes are then shared with the administration and coaching staff for student identification and any necessary disciplinary action. Frequently the tapes are shown to students for verification of our involvement and for teaching purposes.
The officers respond to emergencies as the schools require. These may also include issues related to student custody, parental visitations, or reports of accosted children who may be enrolled in our schools.
The school division provides the officers with vehicles, communications equipment, video surveillance cameras, and open access to any school at any time. All school numbers and administrators’ pager numbers are provided to the officers annually. Copies of the pager, voice mail and office numbers of the officers are provided to school personnel. Valuable information is shared regarding students who might involved in illegal or dangerous activities. In addition to their roles on the advisory committee, the School Enforcement Unit Officers meet monthly with the Chair of the advisory committee to review police matters only.
The School Enforcement Unit Officers provide regular drug awareness lectures for students, as well as drug dog demonstrations. Regular workshops are provided to teachers, administrators, hall monitors, bus drivers and food service employees on such topics as recognizing drugs, commonly used or new weapons.
Drug sweeps with the narcotics dogs are coordinated on a regular basis. The principal may request sweeps at any time. Others are randomly conducted at the discretion of the officers. The School Enforcement Unit Officers organize the teams and search lockers, student vehicles and classrooms. The School Enforcement Unit Officers arrange for searches by the Virginia State Police bomb/gun dogs.
Throughout the year the School Enforcement Unit Officers provide the most current information on trends in the community as they pertain to juvenile issues. Each spring the School Enforcement Unit Officers serve on committees that revise student handbooks/codes of conduct.
The Police Division arranged Operation Prom with the assistance of the Virginia Alcohol Safety and Prevention Program. Hampton Police Officers volunteer to meet with every senior high level student during the week of the prom to review underage drinking, drunk driving, narcotics use and how arrests would impact insurance rates, family college, employment, etc. Expert speakers and films are included in the presentations. Actual photos of drunk-driving incidents are shown to students only after school officials review them. Police officers also volunteer to monitor and patrol drug-free after prom party locations to minimize the expense of security and encourage drug-free parties. Plainclothes and uniformed officers patrol motels and other community locations to discourage irresponsible drinking.
The Police Division’s Adopt-A-School pairs a police officer with each middle school to provide students with positive role models in every aspect of school activities. These uniformed officers volunteer to visit the school, have lunch with the students, and participate in school programs and meetings.
Keep the Peaceis a youth gun violence prevention and awareness program targeted to ninth grade students. The program utilizes three community agencies to teach students, in three lessons, about gun laws and the consequences of carrying and using a gun. On the first day, a local medical professional discusses gunshot injuries with the students. Using actual photographs and emergency room equipment as props, the medical professional dispels the common myths about gunshot trauma, immediate and long-term physical and emotional consequences for victims, families and the community. A review of local and national gun violence statistics is included. The second lesson, taught by a Commonwealth’s Attorney, focuses on the legal ramifications associated with the possession and use of firearms. Students interact with each other using a series of hypothetical incidents. Penalties and the impact on family and friends are a part of each scenario. On the third day the police officer talks with the students about choices. Using a video, the officer discusses gun violence facts and provides a workbook containing names and telephone numbers of community resources available to young people.
Class Actionis a youth oriented, law-based crime prevention curriculum designed to provide middle students with some working knowledge of the law. The expectation is that students would use this knowledge to make better decisions about their behavior. The lessons discourage juvenile criminal activity by educating youth in a non-confrontational manner. Class Action supports activities begun with Officer Friendly and expands student knowledge of the law in their regular educational setting.
"Knock, Knock . . . Who’s There"/ Go Ahead and Tellis a child abuse prevention program. Through the use of marionettes developed by the Children’s Performance Workshop, the shows are designed to help elementary students recognize sexual abuse. It gives students the skills to recognize certain behaviors in adults and gives them the confidence to disclose uncomfortable situations with adults. Social workers, Commonwealth’s Attorneys and police officers are available during the performances for students who need to have sessions with professionals. The program also helps school officials to become acquainted with the symptoms of abuse and the network of services to assist them in working with reported cases. This program was brought to the school system by the police division.
The first School Resource Officer was assigned to the schools in 1997 through a grant written collaboratively by the police division and the schools. The most unique part of this assignment is that the SRO is not assigned to one school. The school division is divided into four (4) quadrants called Vertical Teams. Each vertical team a high school and the middle school and elementary schools that feed into it. The SRO is assigned to that entire team. The SRO has office space in the high school and the middle school and is connected to the computer network of all the schools. The schools provided the officer with the same 2-way communication system used by the administration and hall monitors so that all communication is shared. Because the SRO’s main responsibility is prevention, the officer spends most of the time with the students in classes, the hallways and school activities. The SRO attends faculty meetings, PTAs and is a member of their Crisis Team and Safe School Team.
2. When were the programs created and why?
The partnership that exists between the schools and the police started in the 1970s, with the Officer Friendly Program. This program was aimed at forging positive relationships with young students so that a positive rapport could be developed between students and police. The Anti-Crime Detail began in 1980, to respond to the number of burglaries being committed during the day by truants. This program evolved to meet the needs of schools. With continued collaboration, other programs evolved during the 1980s. The planning for the Go Ahead and Tell program began in 1996, in response to the escalating numbers of abuse cases. Class Action and Keep the Peace were piloted in 1997. The first School Resource Officer was funded during 1997, with additional officers scheduled for 1998.
3. How do you measure the programs’ effectiveness?
Each program has an independent evaluation completed by participants. We annually review discipline statistics of each school and solicit information from the administrative staff of each school. However, our most valuable assessment is the School Safety Survey conducted through random sampling of our students, staff and community by the Director of Planning, Assessment, and Evaluation. Focus groups with elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and parents introduced issues and concerns that were developed into the survey instrument. The survey contains eighteen statements on specific school safety issues and ends with a general satisfaction item. Each school’s individual data is shared with the building administration for individual school planning. The aggregate data is then reviewed by the advisory committee to determine strategies for program revision, deletion or development.
Students are generally satisfied with school safety. Parent and employee responses were similar and more positive than the students. Statistically, the numbers of serious disciplinary offenses is showing an overall decline in middle and high schools, with a slight increase in elementary offenses.
4. How are the program’s financed?
The community shares the financing of the Safe School Plan. The salaries of the School Enforcement Unit officers and Officer Friendly are paid by the police. The schools provide all supplies and equipment. The SRO was secured through a grant. The additional SROs were secured by a grant to the police division with the required cash match being paid by the schools. Community agency grants assist with the funds for Go Ahead and Tell and Operation Prom. Officers volunteer for Adopt-A-School and Operation Prom. Volunteers from the police, courts and the medical profession conduct the Class Action and Keep The Peace activities. Community businesses contribute the printed materials.
5. How is the community involved in the programs?
The total community is involved in the planning and costs of activities to improve the safety of the schools. The community-based advisory committee meets to develop strategies and review programs. This plan has been an overwhelming success. The networking among the agencies has improved services to the community as a whole. Other committees are now using the model to address community concerns other than safety.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.