“To Protect and to Serve” adorns the sides of countless numbers of police vehicles across the United States. But now a city in one of America’s most liberal states may as well erase and replace the motto with “To Protect…Everyone’s Feelings.”
What’s one of the best ways to teach children not to be afraid of water? Give them swimming lessons at an early age. Same goes for fear of dogs, reading, math, spinach, etc. Introducing children to things they may one day find intimidating is a smart way to prepare them for coping with it in potential future encounters.
Does some degree of animosity or friction exist between society and law enforcement? Of course it does. It’s why you get that nano-moment of panic when you catch a glimpse of approaching flashing red lights in the rear view mirror.
The police department of Northampton, Massachusetts had a smart idea for helping to break down that animosity — start breaking it down when people are young.
Until recently, this is what little kids in Northampton, Massachusetts saw when they came to elementary school on Fridays: an officer who wanted to give them a high five. The Northhampton Police Department started the program in early December with the blessing of local school officials, sending out cops once a week to high-five students.
That seems like a good enough idea. What a great way for children to begin the day, by seeing those sworn to protect them as friendly, smiling, approachable members of the community. But wait. This is Liberal Land, nothing that logical is that easy.
The program has abruptly been cancelled. Why? Apparently because the sight of police officers, even ones there just to say “hi” and slap a high-five, might cause some kids undue mental duress.
“While we received a lot of support on social media, we also heard a few concerns about the program,” the department announced on Saturday. They said Chief Jody Kasper got invited to a school committee meeting to address potential problems. Someone brought up the possibility some kids would be uncomfortable seeing police at the beginning of a school day, while other people questioned the long-term efficacy. This conversation led to the program getting temporarily paused. A follow up meeting with over a dozen members of the public resulted in the program getting axed for good.
“Concerns were shared that some kids might respond negatively to a group of uniformed officers at their school. People were specifically concerned about kids of color, undocumented children, or any children who may have had negative experiences with the police,” the NPD said.
One poster on the NPD’s Facebook page shared the following thoughts:
“What a shame!!! Since when should children be encouraged to be afraid of police officers…This is a great way for children to learn the police are there to help them…to protect them…The children at my elementary school enjoy seeing our local policemen at school…it’s not the children who are afraid or who have anything to hide…it’s their parents!!! Shame on the Northampton School Committee.”
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]