Fort Pierce PD fosters bond with young students - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Fort Pierce PD fosters bond with young students

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - After a year where police departments around the country have been under scrutiny for their community relationships, the Fort Pierce Police Department is trying to foster stronger bonds with its residents, starting with its youngest.

Officer Eddie Dove is a big man on campus at Chester A. Moore Elementary in Fort Pierce.  The 15-year veteran with the Fort Pierce Police Department is always welcome here.

"The school is open to them anytime students are here," says Principal Pam Holmes.

On a recent Friday, Dove visited a third-grade classroom to take questions.

"If someone comes running in from a crime, what will happen?" asks a girl in pigtails.

This impromptu visit is part of a new program called "Courage For Life." The initiative is aimed at giving kids a positive and trusting relationship with the police.

"They get enough negativity from everyday life.  So it's good for them to get some positivity especially coming from law enforcement," said Dove.

The idea for this program didn't come from inside the school, but from inside a supermarket.  It happened when Lt. Rob Ridle walked by a parent pushing their child in a shopping cart.

"Parents will say something like, 'You better be good or he's going to take you to jail.'  I realize their intent isn't to scare the child, but the child started crying and it got me to thinking how many of these kids never have good exposure to police officers," said Lt. Ridle.

"These officers believe in our students.  They trust the students, and they want to help them realize their dreams," adds Holmes.

Dove said communication is key.  As a former school resource officer, Dove hopes he can bring more peace to the city by getting the kids to open up.

"Most of them have been taught not to talk to law enforcement.  Once they understand that you are just like anybody else and friendly and they can approach you, they'll be more than happy to."

Dove says he hopes to watch these kids grow and be brave when faced with difficult choices in life. 

The program is just a few weeks old.  Down the road, as the officers get more comfortable, they may be tasked to read in the classroom, or assist with anything the teachers might need.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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