Hope and Healing: Cops 4 Kids

Some Fort Lauderdale Police Officers are doing very special things for students in Broward County. Craig Stevens has tonight’s special report: Hope and Healing.

Officer James McDowell: “Bravo 7-4 can you show me out at Stephen Foster Elementary.”

Officer James McDowell is not responding to a police call from this school … he is here to teach third-graders at Stephen Foster Elementary in Fort Lauderdale.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “We’re talkin’ about teams right, shouldn’t they be capitalized?”

Not far away, at Sunland Park Academy, Officer Laurenia Fahie is doing the same thing.

Officer Laurenia Fahie, Fort Lauderdale Police: “Are we ready for Cops 4 Kids?”

Both officers are part of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s Cops 4 Kids Program.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “Our main objective is to give them positive light, let them know we can go beyond just the person you see in the badge.”

The officers spend an hour in the classroom hoping to build bonds with students in high-risk schools.

Officer Laurenia Fahie, Fort Lauderdale Police: “We wanted not to change the face of policing, but expand the face of policing to include these types of interactions.”

They help students with whatever subject they’re learning that day.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “OK, let’s go on to number three.”

But they also use the time to talk about issues these kids face every day.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “Remember I said we need to be that leader, not the follower.”

Today, officers assigned to patrol the area around Sunland Park Academy stopped in to meet the students.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “Officer Etienne, step up and tell them a little something … everybody knows Officer Paul.”

Because they want the kids to get to know their local police officers.

And when you see the kids interact with the officers, you can feel the trust and see respect they are building.

Officer McDowell says he jumped at the chance to get involved with the Cops 4 Kids program.

Because he wanted to make sure these kids didn’t have a childhood like his.

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “I grew up, I didn’t have a father, I never had a role model in my life. I never had anything like this, so this is big for me.”

Officer Fahie says she wants to make sure the next generation knows police officers are here to help.

Officer Laurenia Fahie, Fort Lauderdale Police: “One of our major sticking points is when you see one of our cars, especially in the daytime when we all work, please flag us down because you know inside of that car it’s your friends.”

The two officers visit eight elementary schools within the city and say they have made hundreds of new friends.

Officer Laurenia Fahie, Fort Lauderdale Police: “When you hear a kid calling you, and then calling you by name, you know you absolutely scored a home run.”

Officer James McDowell, Fort Lauderdale Police: “We’re building that relationship. I think that the Cops 4 Kids program, that’s what it’s about.”

The Broward County School District says, in addition to Cops 4 Kids, they have many police departments mentoring students district wide.

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