The City of Pharr Police Department has taken the idea of Officer Friendly from the Norfolk public schools where it began in 1974 and instituted a slightly different approach. The program goals have not changed. They still remain:
I. To establish rapport between school children and the uniformed officer,
II. To provide a realistic understanding of police work and the services police perform in society.
III. To create a positive attitude in children toward their own welfare and the welfare of others, and
IV. To provide children with an opportunity to develop an intelligent understanding of their rights, responsibilities and obligations as community members.
The difference lies in how the program is administered. The City of Pharr Police Department has established an Officer Friendly Police Department in that every officer is invited to participate in the program. The officer can go to any school private or public and mingle with the children to address such issues as;
· Questions about laws
· About dealing with problems or crisis situations they are going through
· About drugs
· About guns
· About gangs
· Peer pressure
· About problem with their parents
· About being a police officer
· About attending the police academy
· About getting their driver=s license
· About getting help for themselves and/or someone they care for
· Problems with relationships
· Trust Issues
· Future Issues
· What will happen if I do……………….?
The issues as presented vary in circumstance and in the degree of seriousness by the amount of contact the officer has made with these individuals and the trust that he or she has garnished from these children.
Ultimately, the one on one interaction has proven to be a catalyst to allow children to open up to adults and to share with them their inner most secrets, fears and realities. It is the hope of this program to be able to utilize this information to bring help to the children by interactive programming, getting school personnel involved with the issues and concerns raised by the children and in helping parents become more educated with the issues that their children are facing on a daily basis.