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|Poverty program interests West Monroe police|
An elite group of West Monroe police officers will join teachers from 11 parishes later this month when they attend a seminar originally created to give teachers the resources needed to better cope with impoverished children in a classroom setting.
West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris said members of the West Monroe Police Department Neighborhood Stabilization Team will attend "A Framework to Understanding Poverty," a day-long conference organized via a unique partnership among the West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, the City of West Monroe, Ouachita Parish Schools and the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
"It is important for all of us in any kind of public service to understand more about the people we serve," Norris said. "This course is designed to help people in public service to understand poverty."
The program stemmed from work the West Monroe chamber has done with Riverbend Elementary School on West Monroe's southside.
In conjunction with the seminar, ULM's Division of Continuing Education will offer a semester-long online course to reinforce the seminar's message.
At a news conference unveiling the new program last week, Norris said the program would be of value to the members of the neighborhood stabilization team, a group of officers who spend time in specific, at-risk neighborhoods such as West Monroe's Riverbend community.
This week, Norris called on West Monroe Police Chief Chris Elg to send the officers to the one-day conference on Aug. 12.
Also, Norris said the city will pay to send two officers from the neighborhood stabilization team to the semester-long class.
Elg said the seminar and the course could be of great value to the neighborhood stabilization team because the program specifically addresses the team's target audience.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Elg said. "The focus of their work is in the part of our community where they'll benefit greatly from that."
All stabilization team officers will attend the conference. Two officers have already signed up for the online course at ULM.
Elg said he will evaluate the course's impact on the officers at the end of the semester, at which time the department could opt to expand the program to cover more officers.
"It's a relatively new program and we'll see how it goes," Elg said.
The program already has one big fan, though.
Norris said he has ordered the textbook for the program, signed up to attend the conference and may opt to take the online class at ULM.