National Rollout of Training Program Aims to Improve Police Interactions with Children: Connecting Cops & Kids Trainings Scheduled in Nine Cities

Article excerpt

The Fred Rogers Company, well known as the nonprofit organization responsible for the creation of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, has produced "One On One: Connecting Cops & Kids," a video-based professional development training for police and community support agencies. Its goal is to help officers increase their effectiveness when interacting with children and teens.

The day-long training is designed to raise officers' awareness of the tremendous impact their presence has on children, and show how basic knowledge of children's development can enhance an officer's impact, safety and ability to achieve law enforcement goals.

The program's strong reception by police in the Pittsburgh area, where the training was piloted extensively, resulted in a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to make the training available to police departments throughout the nation at no cost. Earlier this year, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families assisted the Fred Rogers Company in soliciting applications for this training from cities across the country.

Trainings have now been scheduled with police departments and social service agency partners in eight cities, as well as the National Community Policing Conference hosted by the COPS Office this August in Washington, D.C. Selected sites include: Brunswick, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Gadsden, Ala.; Glendale, Ariz.; Nashville, Tenn.; Thornton, Colo.; Tukwila, Wash.; and Youngstown, Ohio.

In many instances, officers from other applying cities are travelling to these sites to learn how to conduct the Cops & Kids training for their own police departments. Additional trainings are in the process of being scheduled for other cities and towns that applied.

About the Training

The Fred Rogers Company first produced the Cops & Kids training five years ago with support from the Heinz Endowments and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The training program was developed in collaboration with the Boston, New Haven and Pittsburgh police :departments as well as child development specialists at Yale University and Boston Medical Center. Cops & Kids combines personal narratives and film footage of actual, nonscripted situations involving New Haven police officers interacting with children or responding to calls involving children, from friendly encounters to intense conflicts. …