10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
Community policing program keeps kids safe online
The e-Copp program has been purchased by schools and police agencies and it can be used by parents who home school their little ones
Police departments (and schools) now have access to a resource to help protect little kids from online predation and other dangers. The product — called e-Copp — is an Internet and stranger danger program that is also an excellent community policing tool.
Similar to ‘Safety Town’ — which teaches kids to look both ways before you cross the street — e-Copp teaches kids to be cautious online and teaches them to avoid bad websites (particularly pornography and hate sites).
Created by Officers Kevin Owens and Tom Wetzel, the computer-animated program follows the adventures of Lil Copper and her dog Double Click as they share important Internet safety lessons with their friends.
“Concerned about the dangers to children from online predators, we developed an educational Internet and stranger danger safety program for children called e-Copp, educational Children’s online protection program,” Wetzel explained.
It started as a public project through one agency and then Owens and Wetzel incorporated Blue Knight Productions so they could reach a larger audience.
“The program teaches students how to be safe both while using the computer and how to avoid danger when away from it — it also addresses bullying. The program has been purchased by schools and police agencies and it can be used by parents who home-school their little ones.”
The group is multicultural to help connect with a broad range of students. Each character takes on the professional persona of a parent and wears clothing related to that profession.
“Education and awareness are critical components of the program,” Wetzel explained. “Teaching kids to recognize red flags and act on them. Emphasis is on communication with their parents, teachers and police officers. This special safety program is simple to use for the officers and it is inexpensive and easy on a police budget.”
Wetzel added that an important focus of the program is for children to communicate concerns they have to a parent(s), teacher or police officer.
“e-Copp provides direction for students and teachers on how to act if criminal activity is found. It also promotes harmony with police officers at a young age.”
Most agencies are looking for new ways to develop deeper connections with those they serve — particularly young people — throughout the country. A good step in that direction is getting more cops in schools as resource officers where they not only protect students but also are involved in teaching valuable safety lessons.
This is where e-Copp comes in — it allows them to nurture a relationship of trust at a young age.
“Police agencies and officers should also embrace more community policing efforts where the ‘server’ and the ‘served’ work together to solve problems and make their neighborhoods safer places to live and work. Because many agencies’ resources are limited, administrations need to find ways to be more effective in their mission of protecting and serving. eCopp accomplishes this.”
Wetzel added that “e-Copp teaches kids to ‘think safe, act safe, and be safe.’ Cops and kids go together naturally. Cops have always had a protective parent/teacher role with children when they meet them on the street. This effort is just a natural extension of that relationship.”
Pricing and Availability
The e-Copp system for schools — which also includes a DVD, 30 student workbooks, 31 wristbands, and a teacher's manual for the officer in the classroom — is about $180. The system for individual families has only a handful of workbooks and wristbands and is just under $30.
Departments can order e-Copp online or by calling 216-214-0132.