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Police Descend On NY Pre-Schools

August 10, 2010

ALBANY, N.Y. - The cops are coming and the kids are thrilled. At pre-K centers on Long Island and in Buffalo and Troy over the next two weeks, police chiefs and sheriffs will be the guests of honor. They'll read stories, tell the children all about their jobs, and answer their questions.

Katie Roche, whose facility in Huntington will host one of the the visits, says it's always fun when tots meet cops.

"They love them. Of course, sometimes they come in and their guns are a little more visible and that either scares kids or makes them very excited."

The visits, arranged by the New York arm of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, are designed to drive home the point that the more policymakers commit to early childhood care and education, the less likely young people are to become delinquent teens and violent adults.

Executive Director Meredith Wiley says studies have shown that at-risk children who didn't attend quality pre-K schooling were 70 percent more likely to commit violent crimes. That's why, she says, law enforcement leaders jump at the chance to meet with tots.

"Law enforcement officers spend every day tracking down and arresting dangerous criminals. But they also know that to win the fight against crime, New York's commitment to putting criminals in jail has to be matched by its commitment to preventing kids from becoming criminals in the first place."

Katie Roche says when police officers interact with children at her Rainbow Chimes center in Huntington, the kids are "goggle-eyed."

"They want to see the kinds of things they do. What kind of bad guys there are, what kind of things are bad, actually starts to come up out of their conversations, too. So children can learn some discriminating thinking by the things that the officers tell them."

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids cites a top criminal expert who estimates that a child who eventually drops out of school, abuses drugs, and becomes a career criminal costs the public $2.5 million over his lifetime.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY