VIPS Go Back to School
With students and teachers heading back to school for a new year, school safety is an important concern for law enforcement executives. Tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012 changed the way that many law enforcement agencies and schools approach daily safety and crisis response procedures. One strategy that law enforcement leaders are turning to is increasing public safety presence in schools by engaging volunteers. Volunteer programs not only address safety concerns, but also give families and community members the opportunity to take an active role in protecting the safety of their own child and the entire school community.
Read about a few law enforcement school volunteer programs that have made the news this back-to-school season:
Alexandria, Kentucky, Police Department – “Police Presence Keeps Schools Safe”
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, Alexandria Police Chief Mike Ward began working with school and city officials to plan the VIPS in Schools Program to provide citizen patrols in and around school grounds. In addition to routine patrol duties, VIPS in Schools volunteers escort all visitors around the school building, check that classroom doors are closed and locked in accordance with new Campbell County School District policies, and build relationships with students. Read More. (1)
Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department – “New Security Measures Ready for School in Fort Worth”
Fort Worth’s Code Blue Citizens on Patrol program has been in operation for 21 years, and this fall the volunteers will be adding an extra layer of security at 10 area schools. Code Blue volunteers will not be on campus, but they will patrol the areas around school grounds by car, bicycle, and foot. Volunteers are issues radios to communicate suspicious activity for police follow up. The district and department hope to have the program in all 84 of Fort Worth’s schools by the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Read More. (2)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police – “COPS Focus on Local School Zones”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol (RCMP) turns to its citizen patrol groups to help students stay safe on their way to and from school. RCMP’s Campbell River Citizens on Patrol group assist with Speed Watch and Cell Watch activities to encourage drivers to slow down and reduce distractions while driving in school zones. Read More. (3)
Law Enforcement Volunteers in Schools Resources
The VIPS Program has several resources are available to help you plan and implement school safety volunteer programs:
• VIPS in a School Setting – This publication provides information specific to law enforcement volunteer efforts in elementary, middle, and high school settings. The publication describes school-based-law enforcement volunteer efforts such as Citizen Patrols in and around schools, safe school bus stops and intersections, walking school buses or bicycle trains, volunteer school resource officers, school-based citizen police academies, scholastic Crime Stoppers, Student Emergency Response Teams, and Law Enforcement Exploring. Information on program planning and recruiting volunteers is also included.
• VIPS in a College or University Setting - This publication describes campus-based-law enforcement volunteer efforts such as safety and security patrols, campus escort services, Campus Community Emergency Response Teams (C-CERT), emergency medical response services, and campus watch.
• Community Involvement in Campus Safety - This 11-minute video highlights the breadth and scope of volunteer efforts in college and university law enforcement.
(1) Scalf, Amy, “Police Presence Keeps Schools Safe,” Cincinnati.com, August 17, 2013, http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130816/NEWS01/308160167/Police-presence-helps-keep-schools-safe (Accessed August 17, 2013).
(2) Van Horne, Chris, “New Security Measures Ready for School in Fort Worth,” NBCDFW.com, August 23, 2013, http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/New-Security-Measures-Ready-for-School-in-Fort-Worth-220861121.html (Accessed September 16, 2013).
(3) “COPS Focus on Local School Zones,” Campbell River Mirror, September 3, 2013, http://www.campbellrivermirror.com/news/222232221.html (Accessed September 16, 2013).