Ministers and Cops Partner To Stop End of School Fights

It's become a tradition here in Houston....ministers walking school hallways shoulder-to-shoulder with local police officers on the last days of school. Called "project safe start", the program is now 19-years old, with a pretty good track record so far.

"We've not had a major incident of any kind of violent crime or any large disturbance at any of our schools in the area and I strongly believe it's because of this program."

Houston police assistant chief John Trevino says there aren't many programs as effective as "Project Safe Start."  Local ministers got together almost two decades ago and decided to do something about fights between students settling simmering disputes before summer break.

"They could say, well I'll wait until the last day of school to settle a dispute or an argument. Well, what they end up seeing is officers partnered-up with pastors and ministers in the schools and they quickly change their mind."

Over the next couple of days, several hundred local ministers will team-up with HPD and Houston School District officers at dozens of schools across several districts. Lt. Roy Garivey is with HISD police.

"We'll have our officers at every secondary school, middle school and high school. We'll have HPD officers at every middle school and secondary school also. Metro will do all the transit centers. The different constables, whatever area they cover of the town, those schools that fall in their jurisdiction, they'll be there also.  So we want to basically flood the area. That visual deterrence is our selling point."    

The program's success doesn't surprise Pastor Robert Jefferson. He preaches at Cullen Missionary Baptist Church and is also part of Houston Ministers Against Crime. He'll walk school hallways for the next couple of days.

"You know, it's just saying we're here for you and we're here to protect you and they take their minds off of fighting and defending themselves and go about their business in school."  
 
Officers will also patrol neighborhoods around schools to make sure students don't take fights to nearby streets.  

 

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...