NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - Students in Northampton used to begin Friday mornings with high fives and fist bumps from local police officers, but because of concerns from parents that program has been halted.
The “High Five Friday” program aimed to bring uniformed police officers to the city’s elementary schools on Fridays to welcome students to school. The idea for the program began after a law enforcement conference in San Diego, in which High Five Fridays were promoted as a way for officers to engage with young people, WWLP reported.
Northampton police said they received a lot of support for the program from the public, but there were also numerous concerns.
During a school committee meeting, concerns were raised that not all children would feel comfortable with a police presence at the beginning of the school day. Others started to question the long-term impacts of the program and wondered if the program was valuable.
After the meeting, police were asked to pause the program, which they did.
Police attended a follow-up meeting with members of the public to discuss High Five Friday. About a dozen people attended, and concerns were shared that some of the students may respond negatively to a group of uniformed police officers at their school, specifically students of color, undocumented immigrants and children who may have had a negative experience with police previously.
Northampton police made the decision to end the program after that meeting.
In a Facebook post, Northampton police said it will continue to explore ways to connect more with young people and will still accept high fives and fist bumps from anyone who asks an officer on the street.
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