IN some eyes, the notion of uniformed police officers serving as academic tutors for children in a low-income housing complex represents a departure from traditional policing duties.
Looked at from a long-term perspective, however, the program recently adopted by the Columbus Police Department at the Pence Place apartment complex in East Columbus could achieve results that will not only improve public safety but give hope to children living in difficult circumstances.
“Homework With an Officer” pairs eight members of the police department on a rotating basis with children living in the complex.
The two-hour weekly sessions will enable officers to help young students with homework, establishing a framework in which they will have an incentive to complete the work and receive guidance when needed.
That certainly is an important benefit for the families, many of them headed by single parents working to support their children and pressed for the free time to monitor their school work.
It also can serve as an incentive for the students to become more engaged in their studies and can give them an important assist in keeping up with their classmates.
While the role of tutor might seem a departure from traditional police duties, it is an excellent fit with the concept of community policing that this and previous city administrations have pursued.
Its inception — developed through a neighborhood meeting earlier this summer — speaks to the intent of the philosophy in that it was driven by grass-roots attitudes.
Aside from the potential educational benefits, these sessions could establish a rapport between police officers and families in the complex, providing those families with a notion of officers as human beings similar to themselves and not as uniforms intent only on putting people in jail.
This is only one of a number of projects associated with the community policing concept that have been put into place in recent years. Any results that could come from these programs might seem transparent and are unlikely to produce instant gratification.
However, they could help to produce effects such as academic progress for these children, ultimately resulting in their graduation from high school and even post-secondary schools and becoming productive members of society.
If that is achieved, efforts such as “Homework With an Officer” should be viewed as an integral part of the police department’s mission.