Cops & Kids Program

For best results when utilizing these materials, it is important that teachers feel comfortable about the use of outside resource people, the practices of interactive methodology, and the methods for handling controversial issues in the classroom. The following provides a brief review of these approaches.


Procedure for a Resource Person

1 Contact the resource person and arrange a visit to your classroom for the lesson. After sending a copy of the lesson, discuss the visitor’s role and the goals of the lesson.

2 Place the visit in context. Explain the class’s course of study and the objectives of the course.

3 Describe the audience. Tell the speaker how many students will be present, age range, interests, and achievement levels.

4 Discuss the length of the lesson, the teaching strategy that will be used, and the time allotted for the resource person. Alert the resource person to any special considerations: particularly difficult questions that could arise, strong feelings among the students about issues that will be covered, etc.

5 Request specific times and dates. Suggest two or three alternatives from which your guest can choose. Some resource persons can require considerable advance notice.

6 Be sure the speaker has the correct address, directions, and knows where to park.


Tips for Effective Small-Group Work

Small groups require all students to do their job and help others to improve their own work. The final product—the result of several people’s best efforts—is better than what each individual could do alone. The following are some concrete suggestions for using small groups effectively:

1 Provide clear instructions to the group. It is best to give the group just one or two instructions at one time.

2 Prepare the students with adequate knowledge and skills to do the work (e.g., background readings, classroom discussion, understanding of roles to play, etc.).

3 Students must be given enough time to finish their task. Think creatively in advance about ways to occupy groups that finish ahead of other groups.

4 Small groups work best, from three to five students, and only two or three when a complicated written product is the intended outcome.

5 Teachers should consider how incentives and evaluation strategies affect the use of small groups. There should be a group incentive for group efforts.

6 Be clear about management issues of groups. If someone must report back to the class on the group’s work, there should be a process for selecting the Reporter at the outset.

7 Teachers (and those in the classrooms around them) should be prepared for the increased noise level that occurs during small-group activities.

8 Form diverse groups. Mix students by skill level, social groupings, etc.

9 Teachers should circulate, observe, and evaluate what is happening in the groups.

10 Look for ways to encourage interdependence within a group. If possible assign each member a specific role. Groups are more effective when their success depends on every group member.


A Guide for Managing Controversial Issues

Controversy is a natural and essential part of our democratic system. This is particularly true when discussing issues of police misconduct, race relations, discrimination, and proposed solutions to these problems, especially if there are any current controversies in the community. Some of the readings and hypothetical examples in these materials may be particularly sensitive.

They were developed to serve two purposes:

1 To provide a factual basis for the discussion of the issues, and

2 To generate critical thinking, debate, and analysis of public policy on the part of participants.

  • Although each of the readings was extensively researched and reviewed to assure accuracy and a balanced presentation, a certain level of controversy is likely and should be encouraged if it is constructive and productive, but if disruptive or unproductive controversy arises in the course of presentation, try to clarify the nature of the disagreement by:
  • Identifying the issue or issues under dispute.
  • Identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.Identifying underlying assumptions and establishing a factual base.
  • Challenging participants to concretely define terms and support opinions or statements with facts and reasons.

The process of definition may bring the subject to closure. If not, use an appropriate strategy for addressing the controversy, such as a discussion, research, formal debate, an anonymous writing assignment, mediation, or a forced perspective activity in which students must argue an issue from the “other” side. Some of these activities can be completed outside of the group or on an individual basis.To help reduce unproductive controversy, establish certain ground rules:

  • Participants must argue ideas, not personalities.
  • Participants must represent the opposing position(s) fairly and accurately.
  • Participants should attempt to understand the opposing perspective(s).
  • Participants should be encouraged to admit doubts and weaknesses in their own position.Above all, the argument should concentrate on evidence.
  • Participants should be given a chance to air their own views, hear their opponents’ views, and examine both.

In some cases, controversy cannot and should not be resolved. In such cases seek closure by having participants agree to disagree until more information is available or new arguments for one side or the other arise. Assure participants that closure of a controversy does not mean one side wins, nor does an individual need to abandon his or her beliefs, and that there will be future opportunities to discuss the issue.

Core Program Lessons

Police Patrol 

In this role-play simulation activity, students are divided into small groups with one group assuming the role of police officers, the rest of citizens. Real police officers serve as resource people and coach students taking the role of police officers to handling typical calls for assistance.

Crime-Free Schools (Day One) 

This is the first lesson of a two-day lesson sequence and introduces students to issues of crime and safety. Students, working in small groups as the “Mayor’s Task Force” whose mission is to decide how best to spend $150,000 to reduce crime.

Crime-Free Schools (Day Two)

This is the second day of a two-part lesson sequence. Each student group presents to the class its plan for using $150,000. 

Public Safety Project: Improving Public Safety and Police-Community Relations

Students participate in the planning and implementation of a civic action project to improve public-safety and improve relations with police.

Extension Lessons

To Protect and Serve: Past, Present, and Future (I)  

In this first lesson of a two-lesson sequence, students examine the role and function of the police in the historical setting of Tough Town, a western settlement of the mid-1800s, and explore the developmental stages of law-enforcement organization. . .

To Protect and Serve: Past, Present, and Future (II)   

This is the second day of a two-part lesson in which students learn how Tough Town grew first to Big City and then to Modern City and faced such 20th-century challenges to law enforcement as adequacy of resources and effective community relations.

Police and the Use of Force 

In this lesson, students learn about the law pertaining to levels of force that police may use in making an arrest or confronting suspects in the field. 

Arrest and Search   

In this lesson, students learn about the law of arrest and search and seizure. 

The Miranda Rule

Students learn about the history and case law relating to the Miranda warnings in this lesson.

Police Commission

In this lesson, students analyze and evaluate police procedures by taking the role of police commissioners. 

Policing the Police

In this lesson, students learn about internal methods used to investigate and correct police misconduct. 

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