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Massachusetts police end visits to schools to greet kids

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts police department’s program that sent officers into elementary schools one day a week to greet and high-five students has been ended because some people complained.

Northampton police started “High Five Friday” in December as a way to foster better relationships between police and children.

“We thought it was a great way to start building relationships with young kids,” Chief Jody Kasper told The Daily Hampshire Gazette (http://bit.ly/2lBXN00 ). “We liked that it was something that was seemingly — seemingly — simple, but has turned out not to be.”

Kasper tried to address concerns at the Jan. 12 School Committee meeting and school Superintendent John Provost asked that the program be put on hold.

After a separate meeting last week, Kasper and Provost decided to end the program.

The department said on its Facebook page that some people questioned the program’s effectiveness while others were worried that it might upset children of color, those in the U.S. illegally or those who have had negative experiences with law enforcement.

Parents were informed about the events beforehand and children were never forced to participate, the chief said.

“It’s a little bit frustrating for us to not be able to continue on with the program, quite honestly,” Kasper said.

The department is researching alternatives, and encourages impromptu celebrations.

“Luckily, we still accept high fives, low fives, and fist bumps. If you see any of us out there on the streets, feel free to ask for one!” police wrote on their Facebook page.

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Information from: Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Mass.), http://www.gazettenet.com

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