NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Northampton Police Department and school district have found a replacement for the controversial “High Five Friday” program.
Chief Jody Kasper and Superintendent John Provost wanted this new program to utilize one officer, who will travel between all four elementary schools in the city. They were inspired by previous D.A.R.E. programs, where one officer would be a consistent friendly face.
“That is kind of where we started talking about this. We thought: ‘is there a way that we can identify one person who the kids could see most consistently?’” Kasper said.
That is why the chief appointed Officer Douglas Dobson to be that liaison. He will spend at least one hour per week at each elementary school as a friendly resource to students.
“We hope it would provide an opportunity for teachers and students who want to have more significant and meaningful contact than just a very brief encounter in the morning,” Provost said.
Dobson will begin meeting with the schools’ principals this week to discuss the best ways for him to be involved in each school community.
Provost told 22News that the schools will integrate this new program starting next year.
The previous “High Five Friday” program- in which officers offered high fives to students at the city’s elementary schools every Friday- was cancelled over the winter after complaints. Some city residents were concerned about a uniformed police presence at the schools, and were worried that it may be perceived negatively by children of color, undocumented students, or children who may have had negative interactions with police in the past.