CITY OF CHULA
SCHOOL VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAM
The city of Chula Vista began assigning police officers to work directly with the elementary, middle, and high schools in 1994. The purpose of this partnership was to enhance the relationship between the police and kids of all ages.
One of the goals of this program was to impress kids, at an early age, with the importance of making good choices as they grow up. Providing a safe, secure and peaceful teaching and learning environment for all students and staff was another goal of the program. Officers would be seen frequently on campus as positive role models. They also would work with the school staff and parents in not only dealing with problem's, but in building good, lasting relationships with the community, especially our young people.
One of the leading concerns today is violence on campus, particularly in the middle and high schools. In addition to a more traditional law enforcement response, we have focused on prevention through education. Reaching kids at an early age and informing them about the evils of gangs and drugs is vital.
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Chula Vista Police Department has assigned five officers to work with 28 elementary schools. Each officer has seven schools that they work with. They teach a "GAP" (Gang Alternative Program), 911 For Kids (how 911 works and how to use it), manage the school crossing guards, and assist with the Peace Patrol (a conflict resolution team built using peers to help to resolve playground altercations). This program is very popular and successful with the- school administration and community.
In addition to the elementary school officers, we have five officers called School Resource Officers assigned to work with 13 middle and high schools. These officers focus on all issues that involve schools such as crimes on campus, traffic control, security at sporting events, role modeling, and mentoring. This allows regular patrol officers to be free to handle calls and services throughout the remainder of the city.
2. When was the program created and why?
The volume of school-related incidents was sufficient to justify assigning officers to deal with these disturbances. Often juvenile crimes and incidents require a great deal of time to handle properly. This takes a patrol officer out of service for a good deal of the shift. The School Resource Officers can devote their skills and time to handling not only the incident itself, but they are also able to work at finding the root of the problem the student may have in his or her life that has led to the incident occurring.
3. How do you measure the program's effectiveness?
We have noted a significant decrease in crimes on campus, and an improved level and understanding and cooperation between the Chula Vista Police Department and the school districts. We have been able to provide a much greater level of service to the schools and the students than was possible before this program began.
4. How is the program financed?
For each officer that the city provides the school district, the district finances the salary and equipment costs of one additional officer. The program has in fact become so popular with the schools that the districts recently purchase two fully equipped patrol cars to be used with the program.
5. How is the community involved in the program? How has the community responded to the program?
The officers frequently speak at PTA meetings or other similar functions where parents and the community have an opportunity to meet and interact. Officers, parents, and school officials work together to keep the school environments safe and productive. Parents are counseled how to keep their children out of gangs and away from drugs, and how to recognize warning signs of an at-risk child The program has been very well received by parents and school officials.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.