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Justice Based After-School Program

The Justice Based After-School (JBAS) pilot program is another way the COPS Office is helping local law enforcement reach out to America's youth. JBAS advances community policing through collaborative crime prevention programs. It encourages police agencies and community-based organizations to work together to develop high-quality after-school programs. The primary goal of the program is to develop a preventive approach to juvenile crime and victimization (especially in high-crime neighborhoods) and to improve the overall quality of life in these neighborhoods. Additionally, these programs serve as training and technical assistance models for other law enforcement agencies and communities that wish to implement similar programs.

Since the program debuted in 2000, a small number of pilot sites received almost $3 million in JBAS grants to help local law enforcement agencies partner with community-based organizations to develop after-school programs. Each pilot program targets specific community needs, which include mentoring, tutoring, vocational and on-the-job training, and recreational activities that allow youth to interact with law enforcement professionals on a personal level.

The Indianapolis Police Department teamed with four community agencies to provide educational programming, life-skills tutoring, recreational activities, mentoring, and college/vocational skill building. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, a partnership called Project Hope provides recreational and educational services for at-risk youth. Those services include a portable computer resource center, recreational opportunities, life-skills training, and an opportunity for positive interaction between youth, community members law enforcement, and others in criminal justice. The Minneapolis Police Department used its COPS funds to expand an existing Police Athletic League (PAL) project to two new sites. COPS funds also helped implement new academic programs, expand tutorial programs, expand athletic programs, and purchase new equipment. Missouri's Kansas City Police Department augmented two existing after-school centers and started a new one. These three centers target youth in high crime, low-income neighborhoods. Tutorial and homework assistance programs have been significantly expanded at all three sites. Oregon's Portland Police Bureau expanded the hours of its existing Police Activities League (PAL) program and introduced after-school programming to 11 additional sites. And Stamford, Connecticut expanded an existing program to stay open year-round and for longer hours, expand its range of activities, serve more children, and partner with local law enforcement. Expanded activities include a computer lab, homework hour, specialized tutoring, team sports, community volunteer projects, and information on life skills.

JBAS programs give students a healthy atmosphere in which to spend the hours when they are most likely to be unsupervised, and therefore likely to engage in or be victimized by illegal activities. The programs increase law enforcement presence in at-risk neighborhoods, which also contributes to a healthier environment. Most importantly, JBAS programs give officers the opportunity to build lasting relationships with students, which can change their perceptions of law enforcement for a lifetime. COPS' JBAS program is helping local law enforcement reclaim America's youth, one student at a time.

COPS awarded JBAS grants in 2000 and 2001. As part of this project, several important materials will be produced and posted on the COPS website. The first is a How-To manual that will be a resource guide for communities across the country that wish to start and sustain their own youth programs. This will be a ground-level guide covering every aspect of these programs, including such topics as hiring staff, developing programs and budgets, and the role of law enforcement. In addition, the guide will include chapter management guidelines, activity-based youth curriculum, information about other programs that have proven effective, and general resource information.

COPS will also produce and post to this website a comprehensive training curriculum. This will provide officers and community members with information on understanding youth and adolescent psychology, group and organizational dynamics, supervisory and management concepts, communication skills, child management strategies, and tips on maximizing the developmental benefits of recreational and athletic activities. COPS also funded an evaluation of the current program.