Q&A: First police officer dedicated to schools starts work in Genk

Summary

Fabio Carzedda will represent the police within 13 secondary school in the Genk area, getting to know the students and their problems

Bridging the gap

Fabio Carzedda has been appointed to the Genk school district in Limburg, making him Flanders’ first police officer dedicated to a school system.

Carzedda will work with 13 secondary schools, acting as a liaison between schools and the police and offering assistance to principals, teachers, students and parents.

Why is this new function needed?
Schools haven’t really known exactly where to turn for help, but now they will have a main contact point. It is my job to refer any problems to specialised police services if necessary, such as issues concerning traffic around the schools, for example.

Whereas we previously just carried out our jobs in response to trouble, like drawing up police reports, I will now focus more on prevention by tackling problems before they escalate.

What kind of problems do you expect to encounter?
I will deal mainly with bullying behaviour, drugs, traffic issues, theft and signs of radicalisation. This will be done in close co-operation with existing education services, like the pupil support agencies [CLBs]. In the case of bullying, for example, I might talk to the perpetrator and his family, while the CLB takes care of the victim and his family. I will often act as mediator.

How difficult is it to earn the students’ trust?
I am able to get through to them since I grew up in Genk and have seven years of experience as a police officer here. I will also be a constant presence in the schools so the students can get used to me being around.

We are also working to spread the word about my function via the digital communication platform Smartschool. This way, the students and all other parties will easily be able to call me or contact me via e-mail.

Is this a local project only?
Yes, but several other police zones have already shown interest. The challenges we encounter in Genk can be found across Flanders. We will evaluate the project after this school year, but the intention is to keep it going in the years to come.

E-mail: schoolinspecteur@politiecarma.be
Tel: 089 39 11 78

Photo courtesy Lokalepolitie.be

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