By EMMA MILNER | City of Arkadelphia
Arkadelphia is a Trendsetter City in the state of Arkansas.
The city was named the winner of Arkansas Business’s Public Works/Environmental and Green Management category for cities with a population between 5,000-20,000 for its “Cop Walk” program.
The Cop Walk program is something local residents know well.
Once a day, every day, a patrol officer from the Arkadelphia Police Department (APD) walks the halls of each campus in the Arkadelphia Public School District (APSD). The goal is to have every patrol officer in every school every month.
The Cop Walk program was implemented in 2019 due to lack of School Resource Officers (SRO). In 2022, an additional SRO was approved for APSD but the Cop Walk program was not discontinued. In fact, Arkadelphia Police Chief Jason Jackson has plans to expand the program by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
“By the end of this school year, we want full patrol units walking through the campuses together,” Chief Jackson said.
Chief Jackson says this is his way of preparing for what he hopes will never come. By requiring each patrol unit to walk the campuses together, Chief Jackson believes it will help prepare them for potential active events, as patrol units will be the first one on scene and in the building.
“This program is giving our officers intimate knowledge of each APSD campus,” Chief Jackson said. “We don’t want the first time a patrol unit is inside a school together to be when the unthinkable is happening. Once a school year, each patrol unit will walk through the schools together, in addition to walking through the schools individually on a daily basis.”
In addition to making schools safer, the Cop Walk program is building relationships within the community. APD officers report students are excited to see them at school and view them as allies and friends. Elementary students look forward to their daily high-fives and as they get older, students share their accomplishments and concerns with the patrol officers.
“Our patrol officers are using the Cop Walk program to build relationships with our community’s children and through the community as a whole,” Chief Jackson said. “I am proud of the work they are doing and am fortunate to work with them.”
The City of Arkadelphia was recognized as a 2022 Trendsetter City at the Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference on Thursday, January 12. To see Arkadelphia’s feature in Arkansas Business, click here.