Police Partner with Youngsters on ‘Student Government Day’

Police Partner with Youngsters on ‘Student Government Day’

By Stephen Owsinski

Among the many ways cops roll out programs and/or partake in constructive endeavors involving citizens, partnering with youngsters during Student Government Day is another hat worn by police officers.

The police chief leading the Norwood Police Department in Massachusetts opened up not only his law enforcement hub for students to experience but also his office where the top cop conducts the busyness of public safety.

A Norwood Police spokesperson posted, “As part of Student Government Day, Norwood High School student Kaitlin Trahon got a chance to spend this morning with Chief Brooks.”

(Photo courtesy of the Norwood Police Department.)

Per Norwood Police Chief William G. Brooks III, “Student Government Day is underway, meet Chief Kaitlin Trahon [student pictured above].” Chief for a day is certainly a potential start toward making that stature a reality.

Notice the binder sitting atop the police chief’s desk. It says, “A Guide for Newly Appointed Police Chiefs in Massachusetts.” That sounds like a police leader whose insights are sharply focused, enabling younger visitors to leaf through the myriad principles of executorship, specifically in championing public safety success. After all, Chief Brooks is president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) as well as a member of the executive committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

Seems the visiting aspirants were in excellent company on Student Government Day…

To a young mind, the excitement and uniqueness of such a glimpse must be monumental: not everyone is seated where the top cop blueprints strategies and sharpens assets for deployment in a volatile environment where anything can go ballistic in a nanosecond.

And that is the harsh reality of police work. Frankly, the sooner young people learn about the ways of the world, and who in our society is entrusted to right wrongs, the better. Hence, Student Government Day’s mutually beneficial dividends.

One of the Volunteer lists I signed onto during my police career was to serve as an ambassador, chaperoning students from local schools throughout our public safety building, showcasing its wares and purposes and utilizations to benefit residents and merchants in our municipality.

In doing so, I got to hear about some of the nuances clarified by police executives, namely the police budget and fiscal-year data that funds the functionality of the agency. I found it fascinating. So did the student visitors.

Even though a police chief’s role is robust with oversight akin to playing chess with all the pieces being strategized across the board (city) and ensuring adequate resources to fulfill the public safety mission, they take time out to tutor youngsters in the calculus of police work.

Our department found that Student Government Day had associated benefits, for all parties, well beyond the annual calendar event.

(Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts State Police.)

We found that many of the participating students were opening a treasure trove of newfound information which ignited the mindsets of potential law enforcement officers. Students excitedly asked questions about our agency’s Police Explorers program as a catalyst to further study police science and culture, a key component to any sovereign government’s provisions and responsibilities to its constituents.

The wonder of wonders, students marvel over every piece of police apparatus and the officers who staff them on behalf of the citizenry’s safety and protection.

(Photo courtesy of the La Verne, California, police department.)

With that happenstance, Police Explorer programs garner potential future cop candidates, hence offsetting any recruitment deficiencies (like the national epidemic we are witnessing nowadays).

Heck, even the inner sanctum of a police locker room is on the menu of Student Government Day. Officers with the Olathe Police Department walked kids through the place where duty gear is stored, likely explaining the extra weight cops carry while performing their roles of safeguarding society.

(Photo courtesy of the Olathe Police Department.)

“Thank you to those students who chose to come to see us for Student Government Day! We had a great time and hope you did as well,” an Olathe Police spokesperson declared to visiting students.

With the twisted knots and divisiveness and cancel culture and extreme polarity in our nation’s politics nowadays, it behooves schools and local governments to avail the trials and tribulations as well as the success stories born via democratic republic principles, the good and the bad.

My department’s annual Student Government Day participation engendered the elected city council members —a governing embodiment of seven, including the mayor and city manager— convening as audience members in City Hall. At the same time, students from local schools took the seats behind the city emblem symbolizing the municipal charter and all its machinations on behalf of residents and merchants.

They were instructed in diplomatic debate, statutory guidelines, campaigning for leadership roles, and fiscal responsibility, among other principles of municipal viability.

Generally, Student Government Day is akin to a Citizens Police Academy whereby all attendees are exposed to just about every facility and function of the law enforcement institution.

The Peabody Police Department provides an ideal example, to include a mock City Council (I described above), illustrated in a collage:

(Photo courtesy of the Peabody Police Department.)

Per a Peabody Police representative, on March 16, 2023, “we hosted many students from PVMHS who participated in Student Government Day for a tour of the police station. Students who followed elected City Officials and Police Dept Staff were treated to in-depth knowledge of our Records Divisions, Healthy Peabody Collaborative, Dispatch Center, Booking and Holding, Criminal Investigation Division, Training Division, Armory, Firing Range and they all agreed – most impressive was Ozzy, our new K9 named for his partner Officer Coup’s grandfather, Oscar Coup, who was a Tank Sergeant in WW2.” Certainly can’t find that at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

Bias aside, though, students excite over law enforcement aspects taught by police officers who are rife with stories based on reality. In that context, police partnerships with youngsters seeking insights as good-to-know background or toward potential future careers as crimefighters catalyze community relations while also seeding successors in policing and life in general.