NORTHAMPTON (CBS) – Northampton police officers are looking for a new way to engage with students, after their weekly “High Five Fridays” were canceled.
The officers, who visited elementary schools on a weekly basis, received news that parents were concerned with the program.
Captain John Cartledge of the NPD says, “We would just wait for the children to get off the bus and we’d high five them if they wanted one when they came off the bus, and they’d go about their day and we’d leave afterwards.”
The day was designed as a way for cops to connect with kids.
About a dozen parents raised concerns that the NPD described in a Facebook post.
“NPD really enjoyed greeting kids as they arrived at school,” the Northampton police department wrote on their Facebook page over the weekend. “But, as much as we enjoyed the visits, we also took time to listen to the thoughts of some school committee members, school staff, and past and present parents/families. For a large portion of our population this program may not seem controversial. However, we cannot overlook the fact that this program may be received differently by some members of our community. Most importantly, we want kids to arrive at school enthusiastic and ready to learn!”
In an effort to keep all children comfortable, the police chief and school superintendent decided to stop the high fives.
Cartledge says, “We’re kind of bummed that the high five Friday program has ended right now.”
There are mixed emotions on whether the program should be canceled. Many on social media opposed canceling the program, while others see where the good intentions could go wrong.
One man told WBZ, “I think any concern raised by a parent when it comes to their kids’ education and the surroundings there is valid.”
While another woman said, “I thought it was too bad they had to stop it because I think it’s nice to be able to have a congenial relationship with the police.”
She continued, “But I also understand if people got nervous about the presence of them.”
The police chief and school superintendent have a meeting scheduled for next month to discuss where to go from here.
The department assured the public that their officers will “still accept high fives, low fives, and fist bumps” if you see them out on the street.