Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Police partnership works to keep schools, community safe

September 22, 2010
Cranston Herald
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

POLICING THE SCHOOLS: At the Glen Hills Elementary School open house, Lieutenant Bob Brothers explains the new model of community policing that Cranston uses.

As part of a joint effort between the Mayor’s Office, Cranston Public Schools, the Cranston Police Department and Ward 6 School Committee member Andrea Iannozzi, the city’s Police Department will have a representative at all of the school open houses during the back to school season this fall.

"As part of our Community Policing initiative, we feel it is important that parents get to meet members of our police department who have direct involvement in their neighborhoods,” said Mayor Allan Fung.

At the Glen Hills Elementary School Open House, Lieutenant Bob Brothers introduced several members of the police department who are responsible for the Glen Hills district. He spoke about the new community-based police department model that the city has begun using, which divides the city up into four different districts.

He stated that the new model gives a sense of ownership for the police officers that are consistently responsible for a particular area of the city. He said that it also creates a strong partnership between the community and the police, and it provides geographic accountability as well.

Lieutenant Brothers stated that the police department is down by 15 officers, with no relief in sight for several years to come.

“We need you as much as you need us,” he said.

“A lot of times, people want to get involved but are skittish,” he continued, noting that by putting names to faces people may be more comfortable being involved.

School Committee member Iannozzi said connecting the schools with the police force is part of an ongoing commitment to keep the community safe.

“Mayor Fung and I both began our legal careers as juvenile prosecutors in the Attorney General's Office. We have used our experience to protect Cranston's children, from fighting the influx of sex offenders at Harrington Hall, to cracking down on narcotics in our schools, and now ensuring that our school communities know who their local police contacts are,” she said.

Glen Hills Principal Jay DeCristofaro warmly welcomed the community police into the Glen Hills community.

“We are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with the city, and especially with the police department,” DeCristofaro said.

Mayor Fung emphasized the importance of such a relationship.

“School Committee member Iannozzi understands the importance of having local law enforcement work hand in hand with our School Department to ensure that both parents and students have a strong rapport with the people who are out their protecting their neighborhoods,” he said. “At the secondary level, we have seen the benefits of the School Resource Officer program. These officers interact primarily with students and faculty. This program will now give a chance for parents of all school age children to get to know members of our fine department as well.”

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