Mark Schwartz has been a Chittenden County Police Officer for the past 5 years. He is married and resides on a farm with his wife where they have 4 dogs and enjoy riding horses.
Public Safety and Healthy Development
As a public safety officer, I have observed that it takes a community to keep children in safe and stable environments that are optimal for healthy development. Public safety is an essential part of this community, and beyond the people closest to a child, police officers play an important role in ensuring that each child is growing up in a safe environment where she/he can learn and thrive.
Every day, I witness how today’s demands on families can compromise that environment.
A fellow officer of mine recently managed a case of neglect in which a woman was leaving her 6-year-old child home alone while she worked an evening shift. By helping the mother connect with an afterschool program that went late into the evening and served dinner, he facilitated a healthy situation for the child as well as the mother. She was so thankful—she was completely unaware of this option for her son. Now her son is in a situation where he is safe, in good care, has the opportunity to play with other children and receives a wholesome meal for dinner. Also, she is able to continue to work to support her family and is able to be more productive with piece of mind knowing that her son is in a secure, caring environment.
This is a worst-case scenario, but parents who are mentally and physically drained from their daily routines are also simply less likely to have time to engage their children in the stimulating activities that help build strong brain connections and support their healthy development. With the support of local organizations, like the community-based after school program sponsored by the police department, children can get involved with activities and events that stimulate them mentally and physically. While most people think of police as enforcers, we are here to help with prevention in order to support healthy child outcomes as well. We offer support, resources and training to ensure that parents are receiving the support they need.
Ideas to involve the community:
2. Schedule a visit with a firefighter: either transport children to the fire station or invite a firefighter to a community or child care center. Educate children with basic information on fire safety and what to do in the event of a fire. Explain the various tools and equipment carried on the fire truck.