SCHOOL LIAISON PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Village of Wheeling, Illinois Police Department School Liaison Program is an exemplary policing program to combat school violence. The Wheeling Police Department has officers assigned as liaisons to both the grammar school district (District 21) and the high school (District 214). Both of these officers are assigned to the school counseling office and are supervised by our Investigation Unit.
Wheeling High School is one of six high schools in District 214 and was built in 1964. The liaison program was started in 1968 and has been an on-going partnership between the Village government and the high school district to provide services beyond the scope of basic law enforcement. An officer assigned as a liaison works with school counselors, teachers, and administration in a variety of fashions. In addition to the basic law enforcement function of investigating and reporting crime, the officer also engages in the following activities: a resource for staffing of students (a review of the studentís academic advancement and behavior to offer appropriate services), coordination of uniform security at special events, coordination of juvenile offenders for community service, guest speaker and instructor for traffic, health and safety, and crime prevention issues.
2. When was the program created and why?
The liaison program was created when the need was identified to deal with students not just on an enforcement level but on a service and prevention level. Service and prevention is important because the school district boundaries are not concurrent with the Village boundaries and the influx of young people from surrounding communities impact the Village.
Early analysis and on-going review of crime in the community has shown that a large portion of it is youth related. The Village and school district believe that prevention measures are the key to reducing youth crime. With the success of the high school program, the junior high program was developed in the 1970's and served two junior high schools through the 1980's. There was a brief period of time when the school population dwindled and District 21 was no longer able to support the liaison program. During this time period Wheeling was the home community for the Districtís Behavioral Education Center and an officer was assigned to assist this specialized program.
In the mid 1990's, the school population increased and the district established a middle school system (grades 6, 7, and 8), with two locations. With the Federal C.O.P.S. Grant, an officer was, once again, assigned to the middle schools. Both Districts 21 and 214 pay a percentage of the officers salary for the nine months of the school year. During the summer months, the officers are assigned to plain-clothes duty to interact with the young people in the community.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The effectiveness of the program is measured by using both crime analysis techniques and feed-back from the community. With the assignment of school liaison officers, the department has experienced significant clearance of cases that are related to juvenile offenders. Special attention has been given over the past several years to anti-violence programs including the D.A.R.E. Program, the V.E.G.A. Program, and the special initiative called Regional Action Planning Project (R.A.P.P.). R.A.P.P. is a coalition of schools, social service providers, park districts, villages, police departments, and local businesses, to deal with anti-gang violence issues.
This coalition working with the school liaison officers has reached out to identify "at-risk" youth. With a 30 year experience in the high school program, clearly the School District, Village, and the Police Department, are committed to ensuring the youth of the community become responsible citizens for the future.
4. Contact person:
Commander Eric C. Larson, Wheeling Police Department, 255 West Dundee Road, Wheeling, Illinois 60090. Tel: 847/459-2665, Fax: 847/520-2024
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.