The Child Safety Section located in the School Safety Unit is within the Community Services Division of the Chesterfield County Police Department. This section is staffed by the following: four full-time Child Safety Officers, ten part-time Child Safety Officers and three School Crossing Guards.
This was the 23rd year this section has been responsible for providing the Success Through Education and Police Partnerships (STEPP) program to students in the Chesterfield County Public elementary schools.
These civilian, uniformed police personnel have successfully completed an extensive police background investigation. Each is hired, trained and supervised by members of the Chesterfield County Police Department. Child Safety Officers (CSO) act as an educational resource concerning child safety for residents in Chesterfield County. These officers present approximately 4000 STEPP lessons annually and participate in various events in 39 public Chesterfield County elementary schools and instruct approximately 27,000 students.
School Crossing Guards (SCG) and full-time Child Safety Officers ensure the safe passage of school students across roadways to and from school. This involves managing the parent and bus traffic, in and out of the school property every morning and afternoon. The CSOs and SCGs help to identify unsafe conditions inside and around the school buildings. They also build relationships and act as role models for the students, while promoting trust and acting as a contact to the Chesterfield County Police Department both within and outside of the school environment.
Teaching –CSOs teach STEPP in all 39 Chesterfield County public elementary schools and Chester Early Childhood Learning Academy. Special educational opportunities exist for early childhood, Title I, Head Start and other classes.
Events – CSOs occasionally participate in school, county and community sponsored events. This includes PTA meetings, book fairs, health fairs, Back to School Nights, festivals, field trips, performances, skate nights and graduations, as well as special before and after school programs.
Planning and Preparation – CSOs work to keep information up to date and relevant for the students. This includes spending time on paperwork, staff meetings and communication through computers.
Assisting with Traffic & School Security – CSOs are not sworn police personnel and cannot assume responsibility for situations in which a sworn police officer should be called. CSOs can assist with traffic control and parking, pedestrian and bike safety issues. They can help educate school personnel, as well as students and parents, on safety issues. CSOs help support school safety policies by informing school principals and police department supervisors of any immediate safety concerns using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) knowledge and training to help keep the school grounds safe and secure. They assist office and school staff during fire drills, lock downs, tornado drills and other emergencies.
Interventions and School Support – CSOs are not school personnel. They are guests in the schools and are a support system to the school staff. Just like school staff, CSOs can assist in dealing with school issues, community issues and administrator and teacher concerns. CSOs follow up with the police department, School Resource Officers, Child Protective Services and other support agencies when necessary. CSOs have students referred to them by parents or school staff/administration and, at times, are asked to sit in on individual meetings.
Mentoring – CSOs work with an individual student. It may be in the classroom, office or lunch room, and it is usually suggested by supervision, a teacher, a counselor, a parent or a principal. CSOs take these opportunities to build positive relationships and model responsible behavior to all students. This is done through informal gatherings at various locations, such as morning meetings, the lunch room, recess, hallways, assemblies, resource activities, the bus loop and the parent drop off area. Students may use this time to share concerns with their CSOs.
Meetings and Trainings –These may include school staff meetings with teachers, students, guidance, behavior specialists, parents or the principals. CSOs are required to attend bi-weekly Child Safety Section meetings and training programs throughout the year scheduled through the police department.