The Norwood Police Department has partnered with two other law enforcement agencies and local school administrators on a national program in Northern New York designed to provide resources to children who may have endured recent trauma.

Norwood-Norfolk Central School District has worked with the Norfolk Police Department and St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office on the Handle With Care program. If police officers respond to a potentially traumatic situation involving a student, they would pass the child’s name to the district. School authorities could then make counseling services ready if needed, according to a model of the program in effect in various regions the country.

“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,” an article published Saturday by the Watertown Daily Times reported. “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. … 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.

“Some other districts have similar programs,” according to the story. “Among them, the Massena Central School District started the Handle With Care effort in 2018. [It works] 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.”

Mr. Cruikshank expressed his full support for the program.

“It’s really worked well,” he said in the story. “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.

“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.”

This is an effective way to notify district authorities of any problems their students may have experienced. The specifics of any incident are kept confidential. But school officials will know which students may need attention as a result of what they’ve gone through.

We commend both Massena Central and Norwood-Norfolk Central for working with local law enforcement agencies to put this program into effect. The police representatives involved also deserve credit for cooperating with the schools to share this necessary information. It’s good to see governmental entities partner to set up interventions that may curtail serious emotional problems for children in the long run.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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