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City of Clearwater, Florida:

The Community and its History of Community Policing

The Clearwater Community and its Police Department

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Child Development-Community Policing (CD-CP)


Community Policing: 2006

Child Development - Community Policing (CD-CP)



A partnership program with Directions for Mental Health to reduce the trauma that chronic exposure to violence inflicts on children and families.

 

The Clearwater Police Department is proud to be a replication site - and the only one in the State of Florida - for the Child Development-Community Policing Project, a program of the Yale University Child Study Center and the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. Local participating agencies in this program are:

The goals of CD-CP are:

  • To lessen the impact of traumatic experiences on children through early intervention
  • To educate the community of the effects chronic exposure to violence has on children
  • To broaden parental knowledge of trauma, its symptoms and local resources available to children and their families
  • To heighten the awareness among police officers about the needs of children who have been exposed to violence, abuse, neglect, and other trauma
  • To establish closer working relationships between police officers, mental health clinicians, and child protective service workers.

Program Overview

In 2001, the police department partnered with Directions for Mental Health Inc. (local non-profit community mental health agency), the Pinellas Juvenile Welfare Board, and Pinellas Safe Start to establish a CD-CP program in Clearwater. The team responds to violent or traumatic events where children have either been exposed or victimized via a 24/7 hotline referral number. Officers train clinicians about police procedures during formal training sessions and during ride-alongs in the field. Clinicians provide officers with information about the effects of trauma/violence on children and families. The clinical staff implements the clinical model of acute crisis response developed at Yale and make referrals when extended clinical services or other interventions are necessary. The team of mental health clinicians, victim advocates and officers meet regularly in an effort to provide the best possible solutions

In 2005, a full-time mental health clinician was assigned to the Clearwater Police Department to administer the program. Clinicians work closely with their law enforcement partners to address physical and psychological safety of children who have witnessed or been victims of violence. They help children feel listened to and regain a sense of control. Clinicians and officers educate parents and children about emotional, cognitive and behavioral effects of violence on children and adults and ways parents can help their children. Clinicians assess children and their parents for signs that they are having difficulties functioning and/or exhibiting signs of posttraumatic stress. Clinicians with law enforcement provide brief intervention to help children and families handle the crisis and link to them to long term services.

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