TARPON SPRINGS – A new grant opportunity from The United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Assistance would help the Tarpon Springs Police Department fund the Community Officers in Public Schools Program (COPS) and prevention and education programs conducted by patrol officers and School Resource Officers on campus.
Tarpon Springs is eligible for $10,604 from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant; funds, available over two years, can only be awarded to a local government that performs law enforcement functions. Money can be used for law enforcement programs and prevention and education programs.
At the elementary school level, the COPS program puts officers in the classrooms of about 20 teachers from kindergarten to second grade once a month to speak to nearly 400 students about crime prevention and personal safety. Officers teach students about seat belt safety, safety on wheels (including helmet use), gun safety, violence prevention (both in-person and online), abduction prevention, Internet safety and water safety. TSPD also provides helmets for students who cannot afford them, as identified by school guidance counselors.
Police officers participating in the COPS program are paid overtime to allow them to visit classrooms outside of their normal working hours, adding to the cost of the program that already includes activity books, DVDs, stickers, wristbands and pencils. TSPD also sponsors events like the Tarpon Springs Open House, Publix Safety Day and school carnivals.
At all Tarpon Springs schools, School Resource Officers serve as campus patrols as well as educate students on personal safety, substance abuse and dating violence.