VIPS in Schools
The Primary mission of any law enforcement agency is to protect its citizens and ensure a safe living and working environment through a myriad of methods, all of which originate, at least in part, from the agency’s patrol/uniformed function. One of these methods uses basic public relations designed to enhance police-community partnerships, which in turn may result in enhanced effectiveness of the police agency. Establishing a rapport between the agency and the community is paramount to building a solid trusting relationship which may benefit both in an emergency situation. Ultimately, enhanced police-community partnerships can reap tremendous benefits in terms of community support for agency operations beyond the basic patrol function.
Acts of crime and violence in elementary, middle, and high schools affect not only the individuals involved, but also the educational process, school climate, and community at large. Recent high-profile shootings and acts of violent bullying in schools have captured media attention. Many schools across the United States are facing daily challenges in keeping their students and faculty safe from harassment, fighting, and theft. Law enforcement alone cannot prevent school-based violence and crime. Providing the safest possible environment for learning and personal development is a shared responsibility of schools, law enforcement, and the community. The Alexandria Police Department, in partnership with the Campbell County School District has been examining how community members can assist us in promoting school safety and preventing and addressing potential school violence. As with other volunteer-driven efforts, the purpose of school based volunteer activities is to supplement, rather than supplant the work of paid personnel.
The Alexandria Police Department’s Volunteer in Police Service (VIPS) program was established in 2004 in partnership with its citizens who wish to volunteer their time and skills. The programs ultimate goal is to enhance the capacity of law enforcement to utilize volunteers through the provision of low-cost resources and assistance. Since the program’s inception, it has saved the City of Alexandria more than three quarters of a million dollars in labor costs.
Schools with comprehensive violence prevention and response plans involving school administration, law enforcement, and the wider community show improved academic performance, better staff morale, and fewer criminal and violent incidents. Community volunteers play important roles in implementing and maintaining school-based public safety programs. Their presence in and around schools enhances public safety and allows the police department to focus on policing and enforcement functions. Volunteer tasks my include monitoring the arrival and departure of students to and from school, registering and tracking visitors, patrolling school buildings and grounds during and after school hours, and assisting at special events. Parents, school neighbors, and students can volunteer to accomplish these tasks and build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the school community.
The key to the success of the program is in the selection, recruitment and retention of volunteers. Volunteers will be asked to commit themselves to the program, the schools, children, and to their community. The training commitment is one that could be overwhelming, but we believe that there are those who can and will make the cut.
Recruitment will begin with an informational meeting (TBD) providing the volunteer with an opportunity for Q&A. Topics will include what our background processes are, not limited to a polygraph examination, criminal history, references, etc. Under normal circumstances we do not polygraph volunteers however, these individuals will be required to work specifically around children and therefore we feel the added level of obvious liability more than justifies the use of such investigative techniques. The city’s personnel policy shall be followed with respect to drug testing, medical examinations, etc. Volunteers will be vetted similarly as sworn police officers are, which will insure the integrity of city standards.
Training will consist of our existing 30 hour VIPS course with an additional 10 hours of specific training in the social service elements of our School Resource Officer (SRO) program. We are hopeful to accomplish this within a 6 week period so our VIPS will be able to start work within the last quarter of the school year.
- Policy & Procedure
- Function and operations of a law enforcement agency
- Criminal Investigations
- Special Operations / SRO Operations
- School Safety & Confidentiality
- Traffic Control
- Vehicle Operations
- Use of Force and/or Taser Training
- Reporting, data collection and retrieval
Within a year of initial training, all volunteers will be asked to attend CERT training in Campbell County. Civilian Emergency Response Team training is critical in developing community members to assist public safety agencies during times of natural or manmade disasters and is taught in cooperation with the Campbell County Emergency Management Agency.
Kentucky law is very specific; only sworn law enforcement officers have the authority to carry and/or possess firearms on school property. Therefore, VIPS shall not carry firearms. This program is designed to provide immediate emergency communication to duty officers in case of pending violence, but more importantly, to provide deterrence of those who might think about committing such acts.
The police department would like to thank Mr. Rodney Henson, a member of our community, for his enthusiasm and dedication to this program. We would also like to thank Mr. Glen Miller, Superintendent of Campbell County Schools, and Mr. Matt Grosser, Principle of St. Mary School, for their partnership and support.
Because of the dedication of our community, we feel the bar will be set for the rest of the state by providing an added level of protection and support to our schools, which will give parents an added peace of mind.
Potential applicants/recruits for the VIPS in Schools program may download a VIPS application and when a sufficient number are received to begin a class, we will notify you.