Nicole Nelson, a Hamilton Township police sergeant, has taken an active role in identifying methods to better engage local youth.
In an effort to foster positive relationships between the local student body and the Police Department, Nelson has worked with the school to develop a program aimed at enhancing the partnership between the two groups.
Nicole’s recommendations are the result of research she has conducted while obtaining her doctoral degree through Stockton University.
The Partnership for Productive Youth program focuses on positive and meaningful engagement efforts aimed at enhancing the perceptions that young students have of not only law enforcement but also authority figures in general. The program will entail officers positively interacting with students in a school-based setting and will focus on helping the students to build trust and promoting respect.
“The Township of Hamilton Police Department thrives on a community policing philosophy. Our children play an important role in our community, and the positive relationships that we make with them now will last with them as they grow and mature. It is our duty and responsively as protectors of our community to ensure that our children are safe and have an outlet that they trust and respect should they need assistance or support," Nelson said.
"This program will help to enhance our partnership with our local educational professionals, and I am grateful to the leadership staff in both the Police Department and the school district for their support and dedication. I am optimistic that the relationships that we make as a result of this program will ensure that we are able to continue to serve the needs of our community in the best way possible.”
In conjunction with the program, Nelson successfully identified an anonymous donor who will be donating educational technology equipment to the school district for the purposes of promoting the program. This equipment will be used in conjunction with the school district's newly formed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, and some of it will serve as a portable STEM lab.
The police have offered to allocate available officers to the program, and these officers will engage the students during pre-determined STEM lab time. They will have the opportunity to bond with the students during educational technology sessions.
Additionally, the program will aim at rewarding students for positive behavior and will focus on strategic ways the local law enforcement officers can cultivate positive partnerships that focus on building positive and meaningful relationships.