Cops and Kids program

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - “To serve and protect” is a critical component of the mantra of the Police Force that is extended to all citizens. In an effort to bridge the gap between KPSM and students, under the lead of the Community Police Officers, a program was implemented to minimize misconceptions while cultivating friendships between law enforcement and students. The presence of the police in the school as a part of the school community indirectly lends to modifying undesirable behavior and opens up valuable lines of communication. The program offers the CPOs a platform to invest in the students of their respective districts. Key is showing their students a balance between the disciplinary end of the law and the lighter side of law enforcement. They emphasize to students that their concerns are taken seriously and that their well-being, like that of every other community member, is of utmost importance. Out of this vision, the Cops & Kids program was create.

Cops & Kids, a multi phased program, was hosted by the CPOs, D. A. Chandler, S. P. Crispulo, S.P. Carty, E.S Josepha, F. N. Richards, H. Cristina-Romeo, R.V. Henson and A.C. Leonard in collaboration with Priscilla S. Bell, M.A. Ed of the Inspectorate of Education for the Grade 6 students of the various schools. This year a total of 14 schools that amounted to approximately 450 students, participated in the program. Because of the down time for Grade 6 students after their FBE Exit Exams, the CPOs, in a collaborative effort with the schools, used Cops & Kids to supplement the post-exam programs provided by the schools.   The program was comprised of the following activities:

“One on One”: students submitted questions to the CPOs regarding the tasks of the Police Department which were addressed and in a presentation at the different schools. Two (2) former students of the school were also present to give the students insight on their experiences with the transition from elementary school to secondary school.

“Open House”: students were afforded the opportunity to visit different businesses on the island, and receive a “behind the scenes” tour and explanation of the operation of the business.

“Sports Day”: 12 schools showed their school spirit as they faced off for “bragging rights” on whose school was the most athletic.

“The Great Debate”: Eight schools participated in the debate and the final four face off on Wednesday, June 14 as schools will prepare and defend their positions—for or against.

The Most Improved student: the purpose of this activity is to encourage a student who has worked hard consistently, overcome academic setbacks and persevered despite not finishing first or best. We want to encourage those students to continue to persevere and strive for excellence. A gift that will assist these students to start off their high school careers on a high note will be presented to these students. The school’s Management team will indicate who their most improved student is.

The various activities were carefully layered, to allow students and CPOs to get to know each other and then transition into the other sessions after establishing a rapport. Each activity was layered on the foundation that students received in their previous eight (8) years of school and throughout their lives. Sports skills, Language skills, communication skills, persuasive speaking, critical listening, empathy, negotiation, leadership skills, cooperation, respect, courtesy, winning graciously, losing with dignity, time management, strategic thinking, being encouraging and supportive. The Cops & Kids program only presented a platform to allow them to use these skills as a group. One noteworthy experience this year was witnessed between a mother who came out briefly to see the events and saw her son hurt when he was subbed out of the basketball game. While his response was to walk away from the court and game, his mother encouraged him to go back and support his team. She encouraged him to learn from his peers. He eventually calmed down and went back to the court and supported his school.

The focus is not solely on what students can learn from the CPOs or from the experience, but also creates an opportunity for CPOs to learn from students; to see the world from their perspective, to share learning and growing opportunities and to encourage students to try, persevere and embrace challenges. These lead to opportunities for us to celebrate their successes—the attention is not just on whether they won, but more on the fact that they tried. We want students to understand that we care about the things that are important to them. Although the time for this project was short, the first and most critical steps have been taken.

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