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February 2009
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Wider role for campus cops in Hamilton schools
by Andrew McAlley: Communications Manager Waikato

Working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Hamilton police have launched a ‘Campus Cops’ campaign, placing officers in four strategically located schools.

Hamilton Community Youth Coordinator, Senior Sergeant Lance Tebbutt, said the concept behind the Campus Cops was to further enhance the police’s ability to work with partner agencies to tackle issues in the community.

“The schools selected are in strategic locations across the city and were where we received positive support from principals and boards of trustees.

Constable Briar Dool and Principal Ann Baxter of Hamilton Girls High School.

Photo: Hamilton Press

“It’s about building on our earlier successes working with our partners but in a school environment. The officers will be targeting not only at-risk kids but their families as well, working with other agencies to find solutions to problems.”

A sergeant and three constables took up office in Hamilton Girls, Melville and Fraser High Schools and Fairfield Intermediate.

“The plan is to have a constable set up in a base at each of the schools with the sergeant coordinating their activities,” says Lance.

The duties of the Campus Cops will be varied but each will be expected to enhance the relationship between police, students, teachers, families and the surrounding communities.

They will work closely with not only students but the principals of the schools, Hamilton Police Youth Aid staff, Community Constables, the Hamilton Family Safety and Violence Teams, Child Youth and Family, Ministry of Education and the City Council.

“They’ll be expected to develop strong relationships and actively promote the benefits of schooling to students, while at the same time target bullying and truancy,” says Lance.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Jodi Ihaka says one of the key advantages of the pilot scheme is the ability to identify early intervention opportunities and refer students with problems to appropriate agencies.

“The Campus Cops won’t be restricted to working on just these school sites. Rather they’ll use the schools as a base to provide high visibility policing in their respective communities, with a particular emphasis on liaison and support for schools in the area.

“This role provides the potential for positive, preventative policing based on closely developed relationships with staff and students. A key aim of this initiative is to reduce disruptions and youth crime,” Jodi says.

As well as working to reduce offending and truancy Lance says having the Campus Cops on site would offer other benefits.

“Schools, like police, are representative of the communities they serve. By having staff readily available it gives the kids positive role models to measure themselves against and someone to give sound advice on just what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour.

“And, I’ll be honest, we hope we can attract the odd recruit or two as well.”

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