Cops & Kids Program for Middle School


Cops & Kids: Working Together for Peace on the Streets is designed to:

  • Build positive relations between young people and law enforcement officers;
  • Help students gain a better understanding of the scope and limits of police authority and police procedures; and
  • To engage students in proactively improving public safety in their schools and communities by doing a civic action project.

To implement Cops & Kids effectively, it will be important to work with your local law enforcement agency. Please do not hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We are glad to help you get started.

Three Components

Police Patrol

This simulation activity launches the program for middle school youth and officers. Students take the roles of citizens making typical police calls and of officers responding to the calls. Sworn officers help the junior officers gain a very basic understanding of police procedures. The participation of at least one sworn officer per class is required. Click here for tips on recruiting officers.

Classroom Lessons

A set of simple lessons are provided to prepare students to choose an issue related to public safety and take "civic actions" to try to address that issue.

Public Safety Civic Action Project

Materials are provided to guide students as they work in small groups to improve public safety in their schools and communities by engaging in a civic action project. Student projects might include anti-bullying or violence reduction campaigns, working with administrators to ensure building/classroom safety and security, or organizing a family Police Patrol activity for parents and siblings with local officers. The civic action project is most powerful when student work on an issue that really matters to them.

Implementation Options


A teacher can independently implement Cops & Kids, as long as at least one police officer participates with students in the Police Patrol simulation. A brief meeting with the officers who will assist to overview what they will be doing in Police Patrol is helpful. Click here for more information about briefing officers.

Afterschool or Club

Cops & Kids can be integrated into an afterschool group or youth club.

c&killutr1School-Wide Program

Teachers and/or volunteers can be trained to facilitate Police Patrol. (Click here for information on training facilitators.) Officers from your local station could arrive early for an officer briefing, then classes can simultaneously participate in the simulation. You may want to gather students for an assembly and invite the Police Chief, public officials, and local media to kick off the program. After students have completed their civic action projects, organize a showcase inviting officers and parents to learn about the students’ work.

Offer a parent session of Police Patrol, too. Parents not only enjoy the activity, officers and parents open new lines of communication and trust, as well.  

District- or City-Wide Program

Students from multiple schools gather to participate in Police Patrol. In Los Angeles, this conference is held at the Police Academy, but any conference center with breakout spaces will work. The organizer needs to work closely with local law enforcement agencies to recruit officers (1 officer per 20 students minimum, 2 officers per 20 students is ideal). Teachers or volunteers are trained to facilitate Police Patrol prior to the conference. Students are divided into breakouts where they do Police Patrol followed by the discussion. Each breakout room is provided with a chart and Post-Its or labels for students to write their responses to the discussion questions, then all of the charts are displayed at lunch time.Click here for a guide for setting up a Cops & Kids conference.

Tips for Success

1 It is key to involve law enforcement in this program, especially for Police Patrol. If your local agency has a community relations division, you might contact them first.

2 Police Patrol is a simple, but very powerful activity. It is important that adults who facilitate are able to work effectively with middle school youth, are able to time out activities to accomplish all tasks in the allotted timeframe, and will ensure that the officers maintain the role of coach/mentor and are not responsible for any classroom management/discipline issues during this activity.

3 Launch the program with Police Patrol and not a lecture from police officers or one of the use of force lessons. Police Patrol is designed to open up lines of positive, productive communication between officers and youth.

4 Don’t forget about the public safety civic action project. Providing an opportunity for young people to be proactive and to gain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of informed and engaged citizens is good for them… and good for democracy! This component of Cops & Kids is designed using research and best practices in civic learning.

Core Program Lessons

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for access to core program components and a consultation for hosting Cops & Kids at your school or in your classroom.

icon police patrol Police Patrol

This simulation activity launches the Cops & Kids program, opening lines of communication and understanding between officers and students. Students take the roles of citizens needing the police, and of officers responding to the calls. Sworn officers serve as coaches for the junior officers, helping them use appropriate procedures and addressing the challenges they encounter.

icon crime freeschool Crime-Free Schools (Day One)

This first lesson of a two-day sequence introduces students to issues of crime and safety. Students work in small groups as the “Mayor’s Task Force” whose mission is to decide how best to spend $150,000 to improve school safety.

icon crime freeschool

Crime-Free Schools (Day Two)

This is the second day of a two-part lesson sequence. Each student group presents to the class its plan for using $150,000. 

icon project safetyPublic Safety Project: Improving Public Safety and Police-Community Relations

Students engage in a civic action project to improve public safety in their school or community.


Extension Lessons

icon protectserve1To Protect and Serve: Past, Present, and Future (I)  

In this first lesson of a two-lesson sequence, students examine the role and function of the police in a western settlement of the mid-1800s, and explore the developmental stages of law-enforcement.

icon protectserve2To Protect and Serve: Past, Present, and Future (II)   

This is the second of a two-part lesson in which students learn how the mid-1800s settlement grew first to Big City and then to Modern City and faced such challenges to law enforcement as adequacy of resources and effective community relations.

icon use of forcePolice and the Use of Force    

In this lesson, students learn about the laws pertaining to levels of force that police may use in making an arrest or confronting suspects in the field. 

icon arrestArrest and Search     

In this lesson, students learn about the law of arrest and search and seizure. 

icon mirandaThe Miranda Rule

Students learn about the history and case law relating to the Miranda warnings in this lesson.

icon policecommissionPolice Commission

In this lesson, students analyze and evaluate police procedures by taking the role of police commissioners. 

icon boardofrights
Policing the Police  

In this lesson, students learn about internal methods used to investigate and correct police misconduct. 

Role Play Activities

Role-playing is a central feature of the Cops & Kids Police Patrol activity, which allows students to experience some of the daily challenges of being a police officer and also share a realistic portrayal of attitudes towards law enforcement in their community. The following activities are designed to help students learn and practice role-playing prior to completing Police Patrol with real officers.

icon statusgameThe Status Game  

In this activity, students practice role-playing by assuming the tone, posture, and attitudes of three types of personal status. . .

icon namestorylineName That Storyline - Arrest and Search   

A discussion and team challenge activity to help students understand the right to privacy (4th Amendment).  . .

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