There is a select group of Police Officers who give service to our community in a notable way. Every day these men and women get up, go to work and ensure that our children can learn in a safe environment. We call them School Resource Officers, but they are so much more.
If you should venture into the SRO office at the Plainfield High School, the first thing you'll notice is a montage of photos hanging on the left wall. Officer Bernel Harrison explains - it's their wall of fame; here you'll find pictures of past and present students, and those who have taken part in their Queen City Mentoring Academy program.
These officers don't think of themselves as just officers there to enforce and keep the peace. They have forged bonds with many of the children and are mentors, sounding boards, consciences and yes, even friends. They are trusted and respected by the young people, and in return, they give care and inspiration.
It is from this unique relationship between the officers and the students that the Queen City Mentoring Academy was born; that, and the need to do something to change the focus and outcomes of some of our youth. There are four founding members of the QCMA; Officers McNeill, James, Harrison, and Carter
The Academy is a three-week "day camp" (Monday through Friday) that is offered to young men and women of Plainfield who will enter the 6th, 7th and 8th grade in September 2018. The program is offered free of charge.
The motto of the Queen City Mentoring Academy is "Honor - Respect - Commitment." The objective is to educate the young people (called cadets) about various aspects of public service including county government, the judiciary, emergency services and law enforcement. There is a strong emphasis on respecting oneself, giving respect to others, teamwork and commitment to one's goals. These lessons, reinforced through structured events and offered in a fun, informative, interactive, educational and hands-on manner create a memorable learning experience. The format is similar to that of an actual police academy cadet's training.
Each year the Academy has grown in numbers with 65 graduates last year and an anticipated 85 this year. "We are about proactive prevention," says our Public Safety Director, Carl Riley. "the time we spend with our young people today lessens the chance dramatically that we'll have to encounter them in a negative situation further down the road. We are limited by funds and resources, but we'll always make positive experiences with our young people a priority."
As we hear of the negative encounters of black and brown people with law enforcement in other parts of the country; we feel grateful and fortunate to have a department that leads by example. They go all out, all year round to build bridges to the community and give hope to our youth.
The commitment and dedication of our SROs and all of our Plainfield officers to making a difference in the lives of our young people is one that can be emulated, and we are proud of the work they do to nurture our youth and build a stronger, safer Plainfield.
Creating, One Plainfield, One Future
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
City of Plainfield