Friday, June 1, 2012

Connecting Cops & Kids

In an effort to continue an open relationship with the community, The Upper Darby Police Department has introduced a contest for Upper Darby School District children in grades 1 through 4.

“Many times the children of our community are intimidated or afraid to approach a Police Officer and hesitate to ask them a simple question or even ask for assistance in an emergency” writes Superintendent Michael Chitwood. The “Cop Cards” program is designed to eliminate this fear.

“Cop Cards” follows the tradition of baseball card collecting. Spearheaded by Captain Tom Johnson, this program is an open line of communication between officers and children.  By actively working with the officers to obtain a card, children will learn to feel comfortable talking with a police officer under any circumstances and cultivate positive interactions in the community. 

Each card has a picture of an employee, a mini biography, and personal message that each child is encouraged to practice. Children can obtain a checklist from the school’s Principal’s office to keep track of cards they have collected. The checklist can also be downloaded at the Upper Darby Police Website here.

This isn’t the only outreach for the police and the children of the community. In 2008, Sergeant James Reif was asked to address the staff at Stonehurst Elementary on the topic of lock-down drills and other police related issues. One of the 5th grade teachers asked Sgt. Reif to speak with her class because of a number of problems that was occurring. Sgt Reif, after learning that the children regarded the Upper Darby Police negatively, decided he wanted to work with the children and help them become more informed about the role police play in the community. The fifth grade mentoring program was created.  Since then it has now expanded to include seven of the nine elementary schools, with the other two scheduled to be included next year.

The “Cop Cards” trading is between June 15 and September 14.  Children who ask any uniformed officer to count their collected cards can submit their name for contest prizes.  One lucky child will even win a Kindle 3G!

To get started, speak to an Upper Darby Police officer today.