Experience showed value that police liaison officers at schools can provide
Long before the term community policing came to fruition, the trust these officers developed with certain students who were deemed at-risk was exemplary.
As a former local school administrator, I have read and watched along with the majority of others as recent health and social justice issues have caused many to re-examine their own views, level of advocacy, and what needs to change as we continue to expect the best. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I was subject to a certain amount of privilege, unbeknownst to me; but also, being the son of a convicted felon, was perceived unexplainably somewhat different by others.
As conversations continue as to how we make things better for everyone, my hope is that we do not use a broad brush to paint the actions of many, due to the poor decisions of a few, whether that be an individual, groups, or elected officials. Sadly, I saw this at when the brush took aim at my profession of public education, which some may now choose to reconsider given the recent opportunity that they had to home school their child(ren) … and not a class of 30!
Another case in point is where I read recently that some local communities were moving towards removing police liaison officers from their schools. I can speak only for my nine years as a superintendent, but I found the work of the officers from the Urbandale Police Department who worked in our schools was exceptional. Long before the term community policing came to fruition, the trust these officers developed with certain students who were deemed at-risk was exemplary, and to a certain degree similar to those developed by guidance counselors and other non-educators in the district who did not give grades to students.
This was done with one simple caveat: If a student, due to a poor decision made outside or within the school setting, needed to be removed, it was never done by the police liaison officer; rather, someone came from the department so that de-escalation practices could continue. Some may not think this was a big deal, but it was in that these situations became even rarer in number because of the relationship and trust building that had been nurtured all along by these liaison officers
As conversations continue to focus on what needs to improve in our community and across the nation, I hope we only paint over the things that need to change and not those that have proven to work. Most importantly, we are here to make it better for the kids, which is why I would like to believe that if we spent a little more time on maintaining the Pillars of Character, and exemplifying a little more Golden Rule behavior, rather than the current onslaught of what adults say about other adults in political advertisements, we just might find that equity for all that we are searching for …since the kids are watching … us!