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Cops Worked At Dorchester High School – Why Not Worcester?

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With everything going on between North High School, the superintendent, the teachers, the students and the debate over policing, all one has to do is simply Google. Read. Research. It does not matter where you live or where you work- the thought of having a police officer in our schools just seems simple.

Has anyone of these activists in Worcester thought to research school liaisons? My guess is, meh, slim to none. I think it is time for not only Worcester, but all urban school districts to begin asking for help and increasing collaboration among one another. After all, as the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

After doing some clicking on the interwebs, I came across a school impact project implemented at Dorchester High School years ago. DHS was a nightmare in the 1999 to 2000 school year. The school found itself within a crisis. For many years, the Boston Police were not made aware of incidents that were occurring within DHS; the school and the police were two separate units; however the violence became too much and DHS began collaborating with the local police department to create and implement a plan of action to ensure that safety would be restored.

As of today, it does not seem like North High School has reached the violence that occurred in Dorchester High School in the 1999-2000 school year. At this point, Worcester Public Schools has the opportunity to ensure a safe learning environment for students and staff at North High School before it gets even more violent and finds itself in crisis. This can be “nipped in the bud,” so to speak.

The Boston police department had a School Unit in place, but with all the violence going on at Dorchester High School the unit needed to grow. The staff that were added to the unit included a variety of community members; from juvenile correctional officers to faith based community leaders. The plan was for the police to restore order among DHS in the short term, while school members received assistance from the police to enforce the long-term safety plan.

It seems quite odd that community leaders are not willing to collaborate with one another to build a safer learning environment for the students of Worcester. Collaborating with one another would certainly model appropriate actions and behaviors to the students- Model how to act appropriately as an adult? Preposterous! But really, if you can’t figure something out on your own, it is OK to ask for help! If it weren’t for my co-workers, I wouldn’t know what in the world would be going on half the time. No one expects you to be able to do your job alone.

Back to Dorchester High School. So basically the students were all called into an assembly and were told that new expectations were going to be in place and the community was going to work together to ensure safety within the school. YAY!!! The parents and families were all notified of this. I love that a team of people took control of such a violent school and basically said, “What we are doing is not working. It’s time to make things right. Let’s work together and show these children that we are in charge. We are not going to let children run the school.” After all, even high schoolers are children. They can’t vote, gamble or buy cigarettes…legally. When students act like children, they should be treated like children. Children need rules. Children need guidelines. Children need routine.

The students were also informed that home visits would be made by the police and by local members of the clergy. I bet that quickly helped students shape up. Why can’t local community members say “hi” to families just for the heck of it? Face to face visits are nice and can accomplish a lot in a short time. It allows people to get to know, well, people! HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE WONDERFUL FOR ALL! Suddenly, the police were showing up at their house – not to arrest them or to deliver bad news, but to just say, “Hi, I am a person. I am a GOOD person. I am here to help.” OPEN, NORMAL DIALOGUE between students and police?? Woohooo!! Why not?? Maybe this will help students and families realize, THE POLICE ARE HERE TO KEEP US SAFE! If you follow the law, YOU DON’T GET ARRESTED!! When you follow the law, THE POLICE PROTECT YOU AND HELP YOU!!

Metal detectors were installed at Dorchester High School too. Why not? When students are getting stabbed it seemed like a great idea. Again, you act violently, you will be treated like a violent person. Oh, and for those of us who are not violent and leave our shanks at home: We could care less about walking through a metal detector on the regular because we have nothing to hide – except maybe a sweet new protractor for Geometry class.

It always seems like it’s the ones who are hiding something that would oppose something like a metal detector or security cameras. If the security cameras catch me going to the bathroom every hour, on the hour, then so be it. So what, I pee. I like to be hydrated. It helps clear my skin. Adult acne is not funny. Hourly bathroom trips are nothing illegal, it won’t get me arrested, so who cares?? The ones doing illegal things are the ones who oppose cameras.

Other things that went on:

  • Implementation of a dress code. Sounds good to me. I think having a dress code is always a good thing. You kids wear weird clothes anyway. No one wants to read the word “Juicy” on someone’s butt or read a t-shirt that says, “Recreational Gynecologist.” Eww. Just eww.
  • K-9 dogs were brought in to do random drug searches. Again, someone like me would see the dog and just scream, “PUPPY!!! CAN I PLEASE GIVE THAT DOG A HUG?! I just so happen to have a Beggin’ Strip in my pocket- can drug-sniffing puppy-dog have it, Mr. Policeman?!” …While those smuggling drugs into the schools would probably oppose random drug searches.
  • Consequences to actions!! Detention?? Suspension?? Expulsion? Therapy? Saying, “I am sorry for what I did.” This is basically physics. As Isaac Newton said, For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” You do and act well, you will be rewarded accordingly. You do and act badly, you will have a consequence.


Now this is a chart I like. It is the number of offenses reported from Dorchester High School over two, 4-month periods- Before and After the community collaboration- The data was taken from the 1999-2000 school year:

Number of Offenses Reported

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 11.50.28 AM

I am no mathematician, but these are some DRASTIC differences. A safe environment certainly should be a priority for any school. After all, no one can control what goes on in a student’s home. The hours spent at school should be a place where students can go and feel safe; it should be a place that focuses on learning- not a place where children are allowed to set the tone and control the environment.

So, this was one school’s experience. Pretty successful looking if you ask me. I am curious to know what other schools have done to deter violence from the classrooms. The main ingredients to ensuring a safe learning environment? Collaboration. Open Dialogue. Rules. Consequences.

It would be encouraging if all urban school districts across the state (or country! Why not aim big?) got together to openly discuss with educators, families and students, not just safety, but about what works and what doesn’t within their school systems. I think it is time us, as tax payers, ask for more from our leaders. Let’s show we CARE. We want what is best for our children. We support our schools and educators!! We support our police officers! We support collaboration! And, here is a quote by Dr. Seuss:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 11.56.20 AM

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4 Comment(s)
  • bobnmic
    April 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Nice job Leominster Turtlegirl. You’re good!

  • Clean Hippie
    April 9, 2015 at 6:55 am

    So, you support cameras in school but not body cameras for cops? O.o

  • RSoxGuy
    April 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Why did the cops work in Dorchester? Thats racist.

  • Tony
    April 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Fact: This is better than anything Clive has ever written and also involves research….and I bet Leominster Turtlegirl doesn’t even get a salary. Watch out, Clive!! The Turtles of this world are taking over your job…for free!

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