Police in Northampton, Massachusetts, began their "High Five Friday" program back in December 2016 as a way of reaching out to children in the community.
The Northampton Police Department tweeted about the first one: "Today we started 'High-5 Friday.' Leeds School hosted week 1. Officers and kids had a great time! #northamptonma #high-5."
However, the program has been discontinued because immigrant and minority children may feel uncomfortable due to the police presence.
The police department explained the situation on its Facebook page on Feb. 18:
While we received a lot of support on social media, we also heard a few concerns about the program. Chief Kasper was invited to attend a school committee meeting to explain the program and to field questions.
During that meeting, a concern was raised that not all kids may feel comfortable with a police presence at the beginning of their school day. Others questioned the long-term impacts of the program and wondered if it was truly valuable. Shortly after the meeting, NPD was asked to pause the program, which we did.
Chief Kasper was then invited to attend a follow-up meeting with members of the public to discuss High Five Fridays. About 12-15 people attended the meeting. Concerns were shared that some kids might respond negatively to a group of uniformed officers at their school.
People were specifically concerned about kids of color, undocumented children, or any children who may have had negative experiences with the police. After the meeting, Chief Kasper and Superintendent Provost spoke and decided to stop the High Five Friday, but they remain committed to exploring alternative programs.
CNN reported that some undocumented immigrants have been keeping their kids out of school and away from public libraries due to a recent upsurge in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents under the Trump administration.
"There are teachers who told me they had students missing from school out of fear," Greg Casar, a city council member in Austin, Texas, told CNN.
"I was with a constituent, a single mother with kids -- good, hardworking everyday folks -- and she had duct-taped sheets up and down her windows," Casar recalled. "ICE had come and knocked on her door earlier in the day."