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HPD program to help children affected by trauma

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Albany Police Chief Robert Sears talks about Handle with Care at the meeting of the Police Committee of the Common Council at City Hall, 520 Warren St., on Monday.
May 22, 2018 11:41 pm

HUDSON — The Hudson Police Department plans to put into action a program to help school-aged children affected by trauma.

Albany Police Chief Robert Sears was a guest speaker at the monthly Police Committee meeting of the Common Council on Monday.

Sears was introduced by a member of the Raising Places Design Team, a group focused on police interactions with the community.

At the beginning of the school year, Sears and his department rolled out “Handle with Care,” a program in which police alert schools when a child has experienced a traumatic incident within the past 24 hours.

As part of the program, anytime police are in contact with a child age 5 to 18 who witnessed or was involved in a traumatic situation, such as domestic violence or a house fire, officers will notify the school district through email the next morning, Sears said.

Schools receive the name and date of birth of the child, but does not release any details of the traumatic event to protect the child’s privacy, Sears said.

“That way if a kid isn’t acting like himself or herself in class — falling asleep, not doing their homework — it doesn’t automatically become a disciplinary action in school,” Sears said.

The alerts are then forwarded to the staff who are directly involved in the child’s life, such as a teacher, guidance counselor or social worker.

“The cumulative affects of trauma on small people is very difficult to overcome, but, if it is recognized, there are strategies to overcome that,” Sears said.

To date, Albany police have issued 115 notifications to schools since introducing the program, Sears said.

“One of the things we want to do as a council is find innovative ways to engage with the community,” said 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson.

Hudson police have quietly undertaken a similar program for more than five years, Chief L. Edward Moore said.

“We do make some of these notifications in a much less formal manner,” Moore said after the presentation.

The program is handled through the department’s school resource officer, but does not have an official name, nor is there an official department policy in place, Moore said.

Moore plans to reach out to Hudson City School Superintendent Maria Suttmeier to discuss formalizing the program, he said. The program will be put into place once it is approved by the district, he said Tuesday.

Implementation of the program in Hudson would not be difficult given the size of the district, Moore said. There would be no added cost to the department, he said.

“We have only one school district here,” Moore said. “I think we have about 1,500 juveniles in our city limits and just guessing, 800 school-aged kids, so we have the advantage of a smaller city, so I think this is a situation where it would probably be easier for us.”

The presentation on Monday was part of a community grant project called Raising Places: Building Child Centered Communities. Raising Places has created this Community/Police Presenter Series based on responses and feedback received from city residents, according to the organization.

The presentation is the first of what will be an ongoing dialogue on specific topics between Hudson residents and the police department, according to a statement from the group.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.