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Our Opinion: Making a difference

September 11, 2001

Any time police try innovative measures to reach out to youth, it is worth applauding. Such is the case with the Community Oriented Policing Services in Schools program. As part of that program, the county Sheriff's Office has four deputies working in schools throughout the county.

These deputies are working in areas where there are not many activities and not a lot of resources to meet the needs of youths. In such situations law enforcement often finds itself at odds with young people. When youths do not have positive activities in which to become involved, some will turn to crime.

The Sheriff's Office is trying to do something positive for the kids in such communities. The deputies being assigned to the schools give young people a chance to form bonds with the officers and with those in law enforcement in general. Such programs allow deputies a chance to stop crime before it happens by allowing officers help keep young people on the right track.

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Resource officers in schools go a long way toward creating long-lasting relationships between youths and those in law enforcement, and those relationships can help steer youngsters toward becoming positive, contributing members of society.

Proper raising of a child often includes parents, teachers, counselors, schools administrators and staffs, coaches, recreation departments and now more than ever, police.

Community-oriented policing is a positive way of addressing community needs and of creating stronger ties between police and community members. Those departments that follow the tenets of community-oriented policing — which is basically every police agency in the Valley — more actively prevent crime and have better communities as a result.

The fact that such a form of policing reaches out to youths with school resource officers and police activities leagues makes it that much more important. The officers and deputies are not in schools to bust kids, although they will if they have to. They are more there to serve as guides and role models to kids.

We have seen it work and we are happy to see it happening even more.

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