If you walked into the school gym during SPD in PE you’d hear laughing and see lots of smiling faces as Springfield Police Officers and seventh-graders sweat it out together during physical education class. SPD in PE is a new partnership between the Springfield Police Department and Springfield Public Schools and in the program, officers are forming bonds and building relationships through movement.
SPD in PE launched in August 2019 at Cherokee and Jarrett middle schools and works to create consistent and positive one-on-one interactions with kids to humanize officers and help students feel more comfortable with law enforcement. Another goal of the program is to educate students about career opportunities in law enforcement and show how physical education is important to be a successful officer.
The idea for SPD in PE came from a desire within the department to have more positive and meaningful interactions with the children in the Springfield community. Many times, interactions with law enforcement can be intimidating, but SPD in PE allows officers to take off their uniform and connect with the kids on their turf – at school.
“SPD in PE has been well-received by our officers and by the students,” said Police Chief Paul Williams. “I am proud of the commitment of our officers to be positive role models for these young people and I hope to see the program expand in the future.”
Officers visit each PE class four times, with varying curriculum during each visit. On the final visit, officers bring some of the gear used during the agility test required of candidates who wish to be considered for the police academy.