Several communities in the region, including New Bedford, will introduce "High 5 Friday" at various grade schools tomorrow. The practice, suspended in Northampton schools last month, will surely cause some local liberal heads to explode.

"High 5 Friday" involves off duty police officers, in uniform, visiting elementary schools and fist bumping and high fiving students on the way in the door. Sounds great, no? The cops and the kids bond and build trust that benefit both sides in the end. Common sense? Not so fast. About a dozen parents raised a stink about the practice in Northampton, forcing the police to withdraw from the no-cost, good will program. Why? The parents said immigrant kids and kids of color would be intimidated and fearful of the uniformed officers.

New Bedford Mayor and School Committee Chair Jon Mitchell is unfazed by the controversy that surrounded the program in Northampton and tells me the kids and the police learn to trust each other when they interact. In addition Mitchell points out that we all ready have School Resource Officers in many of the schools, in uniform and that program has proven to be a success.

Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin says as many as ten schools could participate in "High 5 Friday" activities tomorrow, including Carney Academy, The Rodman, Hathaway, Ashley, Carter Brooks and Parker. No word yet on whether this will become a weekly event but I sure hope it does. The only reason I can think of that a grade school kid would be intimidated by a cop in uniform is if he or she were taught to be by their parents or the media. "Hands up, don't shoot," quickly comes to mind.

Any time we can get cops and kids together is a positive thing and should be encouraged and supported.

High Five for "High 5 Friday!"

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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