‘High-Five Fridays’ Not Dead Yet

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/03/21/high-five-fridays-not-dead-yet/

The city of Northampton’s decision to bow to politically-correct pressure in ditching its police force’s “High-Five Fridays” visits to local elementary schools has apparently inspired other Bay State towns, although not necessarily in the manner in which the outspoken opponents of the program likely intended.

Earlier this month, WWLP, Springfield’s NBC affiliate, reported that the Western Massachusetts town of Otis adopted “High-Five Fridays,” not long after Northampton dumped the short-lived tradition after just two months, as the town’s police chief indicated his department’s decision was directly inspired by Northampton’s choice to pull the plug on the kid-friendly initiative.

This trend, however, has now spread eastward, according to the Worcester-based blog Turtleboy Sports, which reports that South Shore, Cape Cod, and island towns are now adopting the “high-five Fridays” tradition.

The Yarmouth Police Department on Monday announced it will be launching the program this Friday, noting in a Facebook post that “numerous police departments from Cape Cod and the Islands and all over Southeastern Massachusetts will participate in High-Five Friday which involves uniformed police officers greeting school children as they arrive for school in the morning and exchanging high-fives.”

“High-Five Friday is an outstanding opportunity to have positive engagement with the youth in our community and fits perfectly with recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” the post added, referring to recently-departed former president Barack Obama and his administration’s community policing initiatives. “Specifically, it is in line with the following two pillars of 21st century policing which are ‘building trust and legitimacy,’ and ‘community policing and crime reduction’.”

The Yarmouth Police Department’s post also noted that the initiative is intended to build “positive interaction with school children and police officers” while “adding to the sense of security for faculty, students, and parents.”

The final report, drafted by the federal Department of Justice under Obama, concluded that “law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian — rather than a warrior — mindset to build trust and legitimacy both within agencies and with the public.”

A specific entry in the final report’s implementation guideline states that “law enforcement agencies should create opportunities in schools and communities for positive nonenforcement interactions with police.”

“Agencies should also publicize the beneficial outcomes and images of positive, trust-building partnerships and initiatives.”

Apparently the presence of police officers at Northampton’s elementary schools was canceled partly due to anxieties felt by children born to illegal immigrants. The most vocal opponents of Northampton’s “High-Five Friday” initiative, however, were a cluster of white parents and school committee members.  

“NPD really enjoyed greeting kids as they arrived at school,” the department wrote in a Facebook post at the time it made the decision to buckle to pressure. “But, as much as we enjoyed the visits, we also took time to listen to the thoughts of some school committee members, school staff, and past and present parents/families.

“For a large portion of our population this program may not seem controversial. However, we cannot overlook the fact that this program may be received differently by some members of our community.”

As for the Yarmouth Police Department, responses so far have been positive, at least on social media: