Police in a Massachusetts town had to scrap a program meant for outreach into the community because some were concerned it would make "children of color" and undocumented children uncomfortable.
Northampton police were happy to post pictures to their social media account of "high five Friday," where cops would give "high fives" to children as they walked to school.
Today was High-Five Friday at Ryan Rd School! We all had a great time! Happy Friday everyone! #highfivefriday https://t.co/cT7MKY9yYc— Northampton Police (@Northampton Police)1481903221.0
Today we started "High-5 Friday". Leeds School hosted week 1. Officers and kids had a great time! #northamptonma… https://t.co/LhhX4MzDG4— Northampton Police (@Northampton Police)1480698374.0
And although they received a lot of positive feedback from the program, they also were faced with concerns that it might frighten some children. When police Chief Kasper attended a meeting with the public about the program, they expressed their concerns.
The police described what happened on their Facebook post.
About 12-15 people attended the meeting. Concerns were shared that some kids might respond negatively to a group of uniformed officers at their school. People were specifically concerned about kids of color, undocumented children, or any children who may have had negative experiences with the police. After the meeting, Chief Kasper and Superintendent Provost spoke and decided to stop the High Five Friday, but they remain committed to exploring alternative programs.
And just like that, the program was cancelled.
"It's very important to take care of the kids' emotions and be sensitive towards it. But I think that maybe stopping it abruptly maybe wasn't the best way to go forward," said Liza Maharjan of Northampton.
The program lasted only two months, but the police say they will continue to explore other ways that police and kids can interact positively.
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