MPS, MPD create new partnership for student safety

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — More police presence at schools. That’s the goal of a new joint partnership between Milwaukee’s Public School District and the police department. This year, more students will be seeing a lot more of officers.

School Resource Officers aren’t a new concept. In many cities they’ve been around for decades. Here in Milwaukee, the program really started to kickoff around 2006. But this year, there are some changes to it.

“I’ve been on the job 22 years. I’ve never see as much emphasis put on the school and the safety as I have this year with the way the program is run now,” said Officer Cornelius Taylor.

This year, officers like Taylor aren’t assigned to just one school, like in years past. And according to Officer Taylor, that in itself is an improvement.

“Sometimes it almost desensitized the kids to the officer, and they look at you differently, more like you’re part of the school staff and not a law enforcement officer,” said Taylor, referring to the program’s structure in the past. But now with this new structure, “I think you have more of an opportunity to reach more kids. Because when you`re stuck in one building you`re stuck there every day,” said Taylor.

The officers of course still deal with any crime that comes their way, and work to prevent it, but this year the focus is on more than that. “Now we get to talk with kids and interact with them, from a different aspect than what they may see under different circumstances, when you encounter them on the streets,” said Taylor.

But perhaps the biggest change is who he’s interacting with. This year, Taylor isn’t going to just high school; he’s visiting with middle school students and going to elementary schools.

“If you just look at the smiles on the kids faces they`re intrigued by him. And initially you see a lot of kids get intrigued by the gun and all that kind of stuff. But as he`s here more they`re not focused on that kind of stuff,” said Christopher Hauser, the principal of 95th Street School, “It really gives kids a chance to see that this is a positive thing. He`s not here because someone is in trouble or something bad happened.”

“It affects not only a positive impact on the kids, but I also think it affects crime. Because now these kids have an avenue to talk to officers in a different way than they`ve talked to them before,” said Officer Taylor.

This year, there are 10 school resource officers for MPS, like Officer Taylor and 21 school patrol officers.