Police Officer and Students Meet in Cyberspace

May 21, 2009

The Jamaica Constabulary force will use technology to host full week of cyber meetings during the week of May 25, 2009 to May 29, 2009 with over 3900 sixth grade students who are participating in the USAID-COMET sponsored online Community Safety and Security programme. This meeting will be facilitated by Superintendent of Police Merrick Watson who is slated to conduct an hour long rap with the students. The students will get an opportunity to ask Superintendent Watson pertinent questions regarding safety, roles and functions of the police, community policing, child care and protection and gang prevention. The Community Safety and Security programme is an online courseware intended to improve students’ knowledge of issues relating to safety and security. This courseware was designed to strengthen support for local community partnership, improve the life chances of young people, and prevent the likelihood of at-risk youth involvement in gang violence.

The courseware is a composite of individual units, comprising lessons, games, interactive resources, personalised student help desks, chat room facilities, real time online grade books, as well as graded end-of module tests. Each unit is complemented with generative strategies such as multiple choice tests, crossword puzzles and other interactive activities which serve to reinforce what was taught in order to promote critical thinking. Additionally, the courseware features an integrated game which can be played after completion of each unit. The game simulates a city with police officers and residents.

The police officers serve to improve the quality of life in the city by making people feel safe and secure. Additionally, they reduce crime by spending time with persons who are angry or upset. Students are faced with the task of assigning the police officers to the requisite areas of the city as the situation necessitates. If this is done effectively, students are assigned points and are able to move up in rank.

The Community Safety and Security programme has been receiving positive feedback and is viewed as an excellent tool to improve children’s perception of the police. This view is echoed by Beverley Gordon, Principal of Stewart Town Primary school who believes that the programme is very relevant at this time, as the Ministry of Education’s thrust is safety and security in schools at all levels. She postulates that the programme is very interactive and user-friendly and contends that the students are able to relate to their own experiences and are learning new safety concepts and precautions. Yanique Orr-Whyte, facilitator of the programme at Jones Town Primary school, writes that the students have become aware of the different practices that are acceptable and those that are not.

She feels this is important for them as they prepare to enter secondary school. She posits further that information such as how to treat strangers, gang prevention strategies, Internet safety and the realization that the police are committed to serving and protecting the people of Jamaica are positives of the programme.

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