The Fremont Police Department has officially launched Building Bridges, a new program in partnership with Fremont Unified School District. The one-year pilot program is designed to allow Fremont Police officers and civilian staff to interact, educate, and build bridges with 6th graders throughout the City of Fremont in the 2017/18 school year. The short one-hour Building Bridges outreach program was designed with the assistance of school administrators, parents, and officers who work with our youth. The overall goal of the program is to build stronger police/youth relationships in our community.
The program concept emerged after Police Captain Fred Bobbitt visited Grimmer Elementary School 6thgraders in March 2017 for the Read Across America program. During his visit, he engaged with the students about their relationship with the police in our community. Each student hand wrote a letter to Captain Bobbitt providing their feedback, ideas, and suggestions. The feedback led to internal discussions about how the Police Department could better develop relationships with the youth in our community and, ultimately, led to the development of Building Bridges.
All 28 of Fremont Unified School District elementary schools were invited to participate in the program for the 2017/18 school year. Within the first weeks of the announcement, more than half have signed up. On September 6 the Fremont Police Department kicked off the program with their first school visit to Oliveira Elementary and on September 13, they visited Brier Elementary.
The program is divided into three segments: education, show and tell/networking, and bonding on the playground. Educational components include short presentations on topics age-appropriate for a 6thgrader. These topics include internet/social media safety, staying home alone, how and when to call 9-1-1, traffic, pedestrian safety, and bullying. The goal of the education is to help our youth build self-esteem and awareness to assist them handle new experiences such as staying home alone and pre-teen social pressures.
During the show and tell/networking component, students rotate in small groups to meet with all of the police staff in attendance. During this time, students can try on uniform shirts, exterior police vests, SWAT tactical gear, touch equipment and ask questions about it, and have an up-close view of a police motorcycle. Many of the conversations revolve around family, pets, hobbies, and the officers answer questions students have about what it’s like to be a police officer. This segment is focused on breaking down barriers, stigmas, and building one-on-one relationships with the students.
The end of the presentation concludes with all of the police staff joining students on the blacktop and in the field for recess. Special program-designed footballs, basketballs, wall-balls and hula hoops are presented and left with each school as a reminder of the visit. In addition, patrol vehicles and traffic motorcycles are parked out on the playground and students have the opportunity to climb inside and pretend they are an officer for the day as they sit behind the wheel and talk over the loud speaker!
The Fremont Police Department is excited about this one-year pilot program, and the feedback so far is very encouraging. The department anticipates reviewing the program goals and evaluating longer-term implementation at the beginning of 2018.
For more information, contact the Fremont Police Community Engagement Unit at 510-790-6740 or by e-mail.