OF FORT WAYNE,
SCHOOL LIAISON OFFICER
During the past decade, Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke and the Fort Wayne Police Department have been developing effective ways to fight drugs and violence in the community. The community policing philosophy has been implemented, home fleet vehicles have been purchased and dozens of new officers have been hired.
While these efforts are targeted at fighting crime on a grassroots, neighborhood level, and while they have been successful, the Mayor and Police Chief realized this strategy did not fight violence in one very important area -- the schools -- and so the Fort Wayne Police Department created a "school liaison officer" position dedicated solely to developing strategies for keeping schools safe.
Since School Liaison Officer Ricardo Robles came on board, communication and coordination with the Fort Wayne Community Schools has improved dramatically. The school system provided Robles and several other officers with communications equipment. Robles can now communicate directly with school safety officials and administrators. In an emergency, when phone lines may be jammed, this is vital. Robles also worked with the schools to get access to some of their limited data records. He can now call up the name and address of any student, which helps with research and investigations.
Coordination goes even further with the School Critical Incident Mobilization Team (SCIMT), organized by Robles and Fort Wayne Community Schools Safety and Security Director John Weicker. This team is made up of representatives from the Juvenile Probation Department, Sheriff's Office, Fort Wayne Community Schools and the Fort Wayne Police Department. The representatives are experts in dealing with juveniles and violent situations. They respond to incidents at schools throughout the community and have the power to call in specialty groups, such as the SWAT team, bomb squad, K-9 units and others.
In addition to coordinating SCIMT, Robles coordinates drug or violence investigations at the schools. Working with the school system's safety director, Robles sends K-9 interdiction teams to schools to sniff out drugs or weapons. He sets up surveillance equipment in parking lots to monitor drug deals or use. He investigates threats of violence and racial tension and works to proactively stop fights before they start. In 1995, Robles conducted 217 school investigations. The SCIMT was called out five times and the newly created school K-9 interdiction team searched for drugs or weapons on four occasions.
Office of the Mayor, (219) 427-1111
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.