North Hampton board: Police at schools a positive thingBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
May 18. 2017 10:16PM
NORTH HAMPTON — After at least one parent voiced concerns that officers can create anxiety for students, Police Chief Michael Maddocks met with the school board Thursday night to gain feedback on whether board members support police in the schools.
During his brief meeting with the board, Maddocks got his answer. Board members expressed their support for programs at North Hampton School that allow officers to interact with students, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E).
“I think the more interaction kids have with your officers, the better,” school board Chairman James Sununu told Maddocks.
Maddocks has looked for ways to bring officers into the school to help build a rapport with students. In addition to the school’s D.A.R.E. program led by officer Chris Poppalardo, he’s had lunch with students and in the past police have read to students as well.
But he began to question the future of such interactions after some concerns were expressed by at least one parent at the deliberative session in February and again at a select board meeting last month.
Voters also rejected a proposal to hire a school resource officer for the school, which serves students up to grade eight.
“At the deliberative session, residents had the opportunity to speak, and some information presented was that officers should not be in the schools to include D.A.R.E. and not visiting during lunches because it could cause anxiety amongst some children that are fearful of the police,” Maddocks said.
The board didn’t appear to share that view.
Board member Tamara Le expressed her support for police programs in the school.
“These little investments that we make early on can prove beneficial down the road,” she said, adding that the police cruiser at the school has always been a hit with students.
Sununu said he supported D.A.R.E and any other collaborative efforts, including lunches with students.
In another show of support for police in the schools, Maddocks was handed a note while standing at the podium. The note was from an adviser for student government inviting members of the police and fire departments to a Memorial Day assembly on May 30 to give the community’s local “heroes” more exposure.
School counselor Debra Vasconcellos, who is also a life skills teacher, praised police for the D.A.R.E. program and other efforts to meet with students.
“I just really believe in community. I believe in building community, and I think that’s a great way to do it, and I think it’s great when you have older students, in particular, when the chief walks in are excited. To me, that makes me feel great,” she said.