“Classroom and Cops” is a program developed by the Venice Police Department. Law enforcement officers provide awareness and education about various topics to elementary school students, while helping them learn the value of self and community.
Pre-kindergarten through second-grade students are introduced to police officers and their roles within the community as well as personal safety issues. The 911 system and police/fire response is explained. Children learn the importance of seatbelts and bike safety gear. In addition, students are taught to inform adults when going outdoors, street awareness of “stop, look, listen,” and importance of recognizing who are strangers.
Third- and fourth-grade students are familiar with the many roles of police officers. Therefore, the primary focus is on decision making and related consequences. Realistic scenarios are provided to encourage discussion about making more informed decisions when alone. Introduction to gun and internet safety along with the impacts of peer pressure and bullying are examined.
Fifth-grade students are introduced to a new program called ADVANCE (Avoiding Drugs Violence And Negative Choices Early). The five-week program provides children with skills they need to resist pressures they may encounter. Lessons cover such topics as peer pressure, drugs, gangs, bullying/violence and how to say “NO” through positive alternatives. Each student is provided a workbook with assignments and given a t-shirt and certificate upon graduation.
In May of 2013 the “Classroom and Cops” program, the Venice Police Department, Chief Tom McNulty, and Officer Sean Hammett received the Congressional Award for Dedication and Professionalism in Law Enforcement from Congressman Vern Buchanan.