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COPS Program-Cops on Patrol in Schools

COPS Program-Cops on Patrol in Schools
The Rocky River, Ohio, City School District has successfully implemented a comprehensive security plan that includes coordination with police, fire and EMS, a school resource officer at the high school, the ongoing practice of emergency drills by students and staff and thorough communication with parents. Students and staff practice evacuation drills for fire, lock-down drills for intruders and emergency situations, and staff members have been trained in Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) techniques. The school resource officer wears many hats, from officer to counselor, friend and advocate at the high school. On occasion, the resource officer is called to other district buildings to assist with an event, although the influence of the school resource officer is mostly limited to the one assigned building.

In an effort to address this limitation of the school resource officer program, a new initiative called the COPS program, for Cops on Patrol in Schools, was launched, allowing buildings in the district that do not have a school resource officer to still benefit from a daily police presence. Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman initiated the COPS program as a pilot effort in 2013 with the goal of improving security by having a police presence at each school in times absent an emergency.

Through the COPS program, a police officer will monitor each school site on a daily basis and a police officer is assigned to a specific school building during their daily shift. Police officers will have an increased familiarity with both the interior and exterior of schools, and students, staff and parents will have the opportunity to build positive relationships with local police officers.

Additionally, the non-emergency component of the COPS program provides several benefits to the district’s security plan, including:

 

1) The COPS program may serve as a deterrent to an intruder. Site visits are not routinely scheduled, thus avoiding a time pattern.

 

2) Police officers provide a daily perimeter walk of the school site to monitor surroundings. Concerns and/or abnormalities such as unlocked and/or open doors are immediately reported to the building principal to be addressed.

 

3) Police officers walk the hallways of the school building every day. During these times police officers gain an improved understanding of the building floor plan, daily operations of the site and a clear vision of how to address crisis situations.

 

4) Students, staff and parents are comfortable with the police officer in the building at different times. No longer is there a heightened sense of concern when a police car is in the parking lot or when a police officer is in the building.

 

5) Police officers are invited into classrooms to talk with students and to build relationships. Positive relationship building has benefits both in school and in the local community.

 

6) There is no cost for this additional security to the school district as the police officer makes this program a part of their daily shift.

 

To date, the COPS program has served as an effective approach to providing additional security for schools while working to build relationships with police officers. To learn more, visit rrcs.org.

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