Last month, the Boston College Police department changed the name of the previous “Adopt-a-Cop” program to the “Community Resource Officer,” (CRO) program. In addition to a name change, the program will now include appointments to libraries, dining halls, recreational facilities, community organizations, as well as residence halls.
Sergeant Jeff Postell explained that the program changed as a response to the previous “Adopt-A-Cop” program.
“This is a very community driven program,” Postell said. “It’s been in existence since 2006. It was originally intended to bridge the gap between police and students on campus and foster a relationship with the student body. As the years have passed, and the program has developed, we discovered the opportunity to reach out to our faculty and staff as we have had with our students."
In previous years, the program has been focused primarily on assigning officers to residence halls. Postell found that reviews giving community feedback, however, indicated that the program might benefit from change. “We received 1,500 responses from members of the community, and one thing we identified was a lack of understanding about what the ‘Adopt-a-Cop’ program actually was,” Postell said. “We started analyzing ways that we could strengthen the program and make it more effective.”
Postell and the department considered the purpose of the program and concluded that, since the “Adopt-a-Cop” program provides resources to the community, it should instead be called the “Community Resource Officer” program. This type of program has been around in high schools since the 1960s, but the idea of a police department focused on the community is even older. In the 1800s, Robert Peel developed a philosophy with nine principles of policing, which he applied to the Metropolitan Police Force in Britain. The CRO is based on these principles, which stress positive relationships between the police and the public. “It’s taking practices and principles that have been in place for many years and reintroducing them to people of the modern time,” Postell said.
In order to determine the areas in which the police staff could expand its program, the department analyzed which areas had trends and repetitive incidents, concluding that open access areas could benefit from a police presence. Additionally, certain areas reached out and expressed interest in the program.
“We’ve had staff members in buildings who might have reached out to us and said ‘it would be nice if we had an officer as part of our community,’” said Chief John King, Director of Public Safety. King also stated that the program has been a success due to both the community and the officers involved. “It’s so encouraging and rewarding to see how many of our officers have elected to participate in this program and make themselves available to help with this program and the community,” King said. “We’re very fortunate to have a welcoming community who wants that type of interaction with their police department,” Postell said.
The officers involved in this program will also have access to newly organized materials for educational programs. They will be able to have packages with which to educate the community so that the educational programs will be more consistent from place to place. Furthermore, each month will have specific themes that emphasize crime prevention and greater community awareness for a safer campus. For more information about the monthly themes, as well as contact information for resources officers, members of the community can visit bc.edu/cro.
“It’s important that the community understands that we’re their police department,” Postell said. “This is just another part of our department that is all about being part of the greater BC community.”
“At the beginning of the freshman year, our department is involved in the ice cream social. At the end of senior year, we are involved in the cookout. Between those four years, our job is to continue being a resource and a part of our community,” King said.
By Sara Doyle
For The Heights
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013