RACINE — While there are calls across the country for police officers to be removed from schools, Racine Police Department officers argue that their model in the Racine Unified School District is different than most, and that it’s working.
“Our program is unique,” said Jerome King, Park High School’s Community Oriented Policing officer. “We’re not like Madison. We’re not like Milwaukee and I think our numbers show that.”
Four years ago, the Racine Police Department began moving its COP model into Unified schools. Prior to that the high schools had been patrolled by part-time officers hired by the district.
Now each of Unified’s three comprehensive high schools has its own full-time COP officer — including Mount Pleasant police officers at Case High School — and there are 67 additional part-time officers who also are using the COP model. Racine Police has been using the COP model, which focuses on building relationships in the community and specifically in neighborhoods, for almost 30 years.
Racine Deputy Chief William Macemon heads the COP effort in Racine Unified schools and said its aim is not only to keep kids safe, but to mentor them, help them make the right choices and to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Citations and arrests in the schools have decreased by 46% since the COP model was introduced in the 2016-17 school year, Macemon told the Unified School Board during a Monday night presentation.
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