MA police halt 'High Five Friday' after concerns from parents

The Northampton Police Department tweeted about the first one: "Today we started 'High-5 Friday.' Leeds School hosted week 1".

Some Facebook users have voiced their opinions on the matter on the Northhampton Police Department's page. The program was inspired after officers attended a conference in the fall, and learned about the cheap yet effective policing initiative meant to provide a positive connection between kids and police. There are several components of the article that are false.

Police got the idea for the "High Five Friday" program after it was presented at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego last fall, according to the department's Facebook post.

The Northampton Police Department instituted a "High Five Friday" program, where police officers in uniform went to the city's four elementary schools to welcome children to school for the day. The department said it was a free way to "positively engage" with youth in the community.

The program continued for several months, with the department posting photos from their visits.

Everyone was on board.

Northampton police are exploring alternate programs, and are still accepting high-fives. Questions came up during the meeting on how effective the program would be in the long term and how comfortable the students would be seeing officers at the beginning of the school day.

Police Chief Jody Kasper was recently invited to a school committee meeting, in which concerns were raised about there being a uniformed police presence at the schools.

The department said on its Facebook page that some people questioned the program's effectiveness while others were anxious that it might upset children of color, those in the US illegally or those who have had negative experiences with law enforcement. Shortly after the meeting, NPD was asked to pause the program, which we did. After the meeting, Chief Kasper and Superintendent Provost spoke and chose to stop the High Five Friday, but they remain committed to exploring alternative programs.

In an ensuing public meeting with 12 to 15 people, additional worries were shared, police said. "After the meeting, Chief Kasper and Superintendent Provost spoke and chose to stop the High Five Friday, but they remain committed to exploring alternative programs". Many parents are now disappointed that a well-intentioned program had to stop, when the controversy could have been addressed differently. "However, we can not overlook the fact that this program may be received differently by some members of our community".

  • Larry Hoffman