As the school year comes to an end, the Heart of Boynton can look back and appreciate the positive influence the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Neighborhood Policing Program has brought to children all over the city. The program started in 2016 and is designed to create an overall positive perception of police officers where the locals feel safe knowing they are there to help, protect and serve.
A little over a year ago the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency allocated $263,000 to form the local community policing program in efforts to create a safer and more united community in the Heart of Boynton located near the north east side of Boynton Beach.
As one of many initiatives, the officers are involved in, “Sweat with a Cop” is a prime example of how the officers bring the community together. The program is directed by Frank Ireland and run by Sergeant. Diehl and Officer Paramore and has become a pinnacle to the Heart of Boynton. Every Wednesday at the Carolyn Sim Center (225 NW 12th Ave) during the school year, the officers meet with kids from local Boynton Beach schools at 3 pm to play outside sports like basketball, football, kickball etc. At 4 pm, the kids break for a snack and then head up to the indoor game room or computer room. In this time, the officers also offer assistance to those kids that need assistance with homework or general mentoring.
“When the officers come, we are excited! I like the games we play outside, but I especially like the game room,” said 11-year-old Tanayshia, who has consistently been attending the Sweat with a Cop program for months.
As an incentive to increase grades, the kids bring their report cards to the officers and if the student receives good marks, they are awarded a prize.
“This is a structured environment where the kids feel comfortable and we are able to use it as an outlet to teach kids how to follow rules,” said Officer Paramore.
When the officers made their first appearance in the neighborhood, the kids were alarmed and put their hands up. The officers chuckled, and assured them they were not there to make any arrests. However, this gesture sent a message to the Neighborhood officers, proving that their presence was necessary. The goal of the Neighborhood officers is not to patrol or respond to calls but to “build trust and transform the idea of the police force” Sgt. Diehl stated. Today, the kids approach the officers with confidence and appreciate the officers as role models. The only reasons hands go up today are for a high five or to catch a football.
“There is a lot of public negativity about police within the community and with what’s going on around the country,” Sgt. Diehl said. “It’s taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach.”
“The “Sweat with a Cop” program started out with only a few kids in attendance, who at first were more interested in learning about the police officers gun and gadgets than actually playing sports, Ofc. Paramore said. This just comes from a lack of knowledge about police officers aside from what they have seen on TV.” Today the number of kids attending increases every week and the kids are becoming more involved, outgoing and comfortable with the officers as their relationship grows. Many of the kids have shown improvements in the way they conduct themselves, and in their academics.
“The change in behavior from the kids towards us has changed so much. We are not reinventing the wheel, programs like these have been done for years, and it just works,” stated Officer Paramore. “This is community policing, we don’t do it for a pat on the back, we do it for the kids.”
For general information on programs, upcoming programs, or to sign your child up in a program, email: firstname.lastname@example.org