Today was the first day of school in Bellingham and it also marked the start of the Bellingham Police Department’s Adopt-a-School program. The concept is simple, BPD officers sign up to adopt one of the Bellingham School District’s 21 schools and then visit the kids and teachers throughout the school year. While the concept is simple, the end result is an amazing number of relationships between students and officers.
Chief David Doll, leading by example this morning, visited the school he chose to adopt for this program. His school? None other than Fairhaven Middle School as this is the school he attended “just a few years ago,” he said smiling. Chief Doll greeted the principal, met some of the teachers and best of all visited with many students as they walked through the doors for the first time this school year.
The Bellingham Police Department and Bellingham School District have a long standing, close partnership in this community, going all the way back to when we instructed the D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs in the 1990’s. Both agencies recognize the importance of developing new and nurturing existing programs which keep our kids connected, involved and building healthy relationships. Several BPD officers have been D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. instructors as well as School Resource Officers and all have stories they can tell about their time in the schools. The stories and memories have common themes, and they are about the trust that developed, the positive relationships built and the mentorship of kids. For some of us these relationships have continued, as these students of ours have grown into amazing adults, some of whom are parents and are telling their kids about “my resource officer” when they see us. There is nothing stronger than a positive bond like that made at an early, impressionable age.
As Chief Doll stated today, “our Adopt-a-School Program is another great opportunity for your police officers to build positive relationships with the children in our community – relationships which will undoubtedly last a lifetime.”