Norwood, Norfolk police alert school officials under Handle with Care program

The Norwood Police Department has joined with the Norfolk Police Department and St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in a program that alerts Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials to any incident that may have impacted a student at home. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

NORFOLK — The Norwood Police Department has joined with the Norfolk Police Department and St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office for a program that alerts Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials to any incident that may have impacted a student at home.

The “Handle With Care” program allows school officials to know that the involved children might be dealing with trauma or other issues the next day and may need to be handled with care.

If a police officer responds to a home and a school-aged child is present, they send Superintendent James Cruikshank an email with the child’s name.

“Nothing else, no details, just a message to Handle with Care. This provides us with the knowledge that a child may not be feeling themselves the next day, and we can approach any behaviors with care,” he said.

He said they have worked on the Handle With Care program with the Norfolk Police Department and Sheriff’s Office for several years.

“It’s really worked well. It gives us a heads-up on how we approach students. We’ve witnessed this program in action for the past few years and it’s been invaluable. We’re very happy now that the Norwood Police Department is on board,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

He said the district works with hundreds of children, some of whom might have outbursts, depression, anxiety or other factors that are addressed by professionals.

“We deal with a lot of traumatic issues, some more than others. Having a heads-up really provides our team with an advantage. This understanding assists the school personnel in knowing the best approach in supporting a child when they are exhibiting atypical behaviors,” he said. “We’ve been very happy with getting those notifications. Kudos to the departments for stepping up. I know it’s an added step for them to go through, but it truly supports our kids.”

Some other districts have similar programs. Among them, the Massena Central School District started the Handle With Care effort in 2018. They work with the Massena Police Department to receive information about the student.

When a police officer responds to a traumatic incident, they get the child’s name and age and send an email to Community Schools Director Kristin Colarusso-Martin before the start of the next school day. Ms. Colarusso-Martin then accesses the “SchoolTool” program to find out what school the student attends, and alerts school officials to the situation.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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