Washington Outlook

Stamford's Successful SRO Summer Camp Model Community Policing Program

by Craig Hardin
October 9, 2000

More than three hundred Stamford middle school students participated in basketball, swimming, computer labs and field trips at camp this past summer in a successful community policing effort that partners a nonprofit community group with the Stamford Police Department and enjoys the strong support of Stamford (CT) Mayor Dannel P. Malloy. In its second year of operation, attendance tripled at the summer camp and is expected to keep growing.

"I'm extremely proud of this endeavor," Mayor Malloy said. "I suspect it will be replicated nationally."

The camp is known as an S.R.O. Camp, for school resource officers who during the year are assigned by the police department to Stamford public schools. The relationships the officers build with the students during the year are maintained during the summer months at camp where officers act as referees, umpires and coaches. Camp begins at noon each day after summer school classes and runs until 5 p.m. and is available to Stamford students entering grades 7 through 9.

"It's fun. We play a lot of sports like basketball and dodge ball and take trips," said one 13-year-old. In addition, there are also games, arts and crafts, talent shows, swim trips to local pools and cookouts. Last summer, students had fun riding on a clipper ship, according to Cindy Morris of the Domus Foundation. "And our mayor [Malloy] here is very wonderful. He"s extremely involved with the young people of Stamford and supportive. We love him."

The camp connects community-based organizations with government agencies and private companies. Police Chief Dean Esserman noted that "much of the camp"s funding comes from assets seized in drug related crimes" and that the best way to fight crime is to invest in kids. "In my heart, I believe this is police work. To see police as simply and only enforcers of the law is really to miss the point," said Esserman.

The camp, which will be in its third year next summer, was planned by the city's Board of Education, Police Department, the Mayor"s Youth Services Bureau and the Domus Foundation. Because of its successful growth, the camp moved from its first year middle school location to Westhill High School, which has an indoor pool, large gymnasium, ballfields, and classrooms available for computer instruction.

The camp is free of charge and open to all Stamford middle school students. In a letter to parents, Mayor Malloy, Chief Esserman, Domus Executive Director Michael Duggan, and Superintendent of Schools Anthony Mazzullo said the SRO Community Camp "will provide a fun, educational and safe summer place where children can work together to create an environment in which respect, self-esteem and teamwork are the basics."

For more information about this program contact:

Cindy Morris
Domus Foundation
203 324-4277

Police Chief Dean Esserman
Stamford Police Department
203 977-4682

Michael Paige
Office of the Mayor
203 977-4643

This article is part of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Institute for Community Policing program, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing. For more information about the program, please contact Kathy Amoroso on the Conference of Mayors staff at 202/861-6728.

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