Law Enforcement Leaders Brief Kansas Senators
Police chief, sheriff, prosecutor ask Sens. Roberts, Moran to support early childhood education, other school reform measures to help improve public safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 4, 2011) — Kansas law enforcement leaders met with U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and staff from Senator Pat Roberts in Washington, D.C. today to discuss opportunities to reduce crime and school discipline problems through federal legislation.
Hodgeman County Sheriff Ron Ridley, Pawnee County Attorney John Settle and Emporia Chief Gary Smith met with Senator Moran and staff from Senator Roberts urging their support for education policy reforms, early childhood education and other initiatives benefiting young children to help reduce future crime.
They recognized Senator Roberts’ focus on education issues in Congress and asked his staff to consider reforms that will help cut crime by helping kids succeed academically and stay out of trouble. They specifically recommended providing more children with early education, keeping school-age kids on track to graduation, and utilizing effective school-based approaches to reduce bullying, school violence and drug abuse, to prevent later crime.
“High-quality early childhood education is a proven crime-deterrent that helps at-risk children acquire lifelong learning skills and social development they need to be successful,” Chief Smith said. “Law enforcement understands the need to get more children involved in these programs, and we hope that Kansas members of Congress will carefully consider the crime-fighting benefits of public support for early learning.”
During the meeting with his staff, the group called on Senator Roberts, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, to support a shift from the current "K-12" system to a model that focuses on early education to high school graduation. A study of the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Mich. found that at-risk kids left out of the high-quality program were 5 times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27 than their peers left out of the program. The kids who attended were also 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those left out.
They also urged that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ensure graduation rates are calculated consistently and accurately, and hold schools accountable for improving graduation rates. Additionally, they asked that the reform measure include evidence-based programs that reduce dropout rates and cut down on bullying, school violence and drug abuse.
The law enforcement delegation gave Senator Jerry Moran, a new member of the U.S. Senate, their perspective on why intervening with at-risk children can help cut crime, reduce later corrections and save taxpayers money. They gave an overview of a range of cost-effective, evidence-based programs that help improve outcomes for at-risk children and youth and ultimately reduce the risk that they will commit criminal offenses.
“Clearly, there’s no substitute for appropriate law enforcement, but to seriously deal with the issue of fighting crime, we need support for approaches that prevent crimes before they occur,” County Attorney Settle said. “The research tells us that the first five years of a child’s life are the best time to make an impact on a child’s trajectory. If we invest in the education of young children, we can make a dent in making Kansas communities safer for years to come.”
“Our crime prevention toolkit needs to include early childhood education, programs that engage parents and approaches that keep older kids on track to success and out of trouble. I’m a firm believer in appropriate penalties and tough prosecution, but our nation’s exploding prison costs show us that states can’t arrest and rearrest our way out of crime problems,” Sheriff Ridley said. “It’s a much better for at-risk individuals when they when they grow up to contribute to strong communities instead of inmate populations.”
Sheriff Ridley, County Attorney Settle and Chief Smith are members of FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS, a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors with over 127 members in Kansas and more than 5,000 members nationwide.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids