PACT is a day camp program that was developed in 1994 by LEFI (Law Enforcement Foundation of Illinois) to assist youth in making the right choices and to help them avoid involvement in delinquency. The Fairview Heights Police Department assisted LEFI in the initial planning of the camps and we have served as the coordinating agency for the Metro East camp since the inception.
Officers from surrounding agencies (O'Fallon, Belleville Swansea, St. Clair County Sheriff, New Baden, Glen Carbon, SIU Edwardsville, Collinsville and Edwardsville) have come to the camps to assist as counselors. The assistance from these agencies enables us to maintain the low officer to child ratio that is extremely important in this camp. For the past two years Officer Barnes has made participating in PACT camp as a counselor for children from Glen Carbon his priority.
The forty annual camp participants are boys and girls ages nine to twelve who are selected because they have come to the attention of either an officer involved in the schools (such as a School Resource Officer) or personnel from the school such as a social worker. These officers and school personnel have seen some behavior or know of some family background that indicates to them the potential for violent, delinquent, and/or gang related behavior in the child.
PACT works to reduce delinquency and related problem behavior involving these children by helping them develop a positive orientation towards police and their community as well as improving pro-social attitudes and behaviors. The positive police experience the camp provides these youths, as well as the improvement to their personal competency skills helps guide these children when their paths become difficult to maneuver.
Letter from Ofc. Barnes: I have been fortunate enough to partake in PACT Camp (Police And Children Together) for the past two years. When I first heard about the Camp I was told it was to help children who have only had negative dealing with Law Enforcement (a family member being arrested or the child being taken into protective custody). As I found out after the first year there is a lot more that happens at the camp and that it allows children the opportunity to go to fun places that their parents may not be able to take them. The first place we go to is the YMCA out door area in Belleville where the kids and some of the Officer will canoe, build team skills and rock climb or repel. Having grown up in a military town (Virginia Beach) and being by the water all my life I did not realize that some people had never experienced this activates before. It was indescribable to say the least, as to the different reaction the kids had to their first time in a canoe or on a repel tower.
The next day we took the kids to the St. Louis Zoo and I was amazed by how many of the kids had never ridden on the Metro Link rail way system. Then as the day went on I discovered that a lot of the kids had never been to the Zoo before. I was pretty cool to watch the kids' faces when they saw some of the animals in real life and not just on TV.
The next day we took the kids to the city museum in St. Louis the kids had a great time because they got to run around and climb on things and not get yelled at. As I was watching the kids it was nice to see them able to let their guards down a little and actually be kids and not have to worry about anything.
The last day of the camp is held at splash city in Collinsville in the morning we took the kids to the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center where they were given a tour of the Center and got to talk to staff members about life in the Detention Center. We then took them to Splash City were they got to see Fredbird from the St. Louis Cardinals who was nice enough the had out the graduation certificates and medals to the kids. Something else that really touched me was that the camp is run by donations of money and time and that the kids do not pay for anything. It is always nice to see a community come together to help its children. I can say this in all honesty I think I had as much fun as any of the kids that I was able to take to the camp.
Bicycles to Boy Scouts:
Several years ago, the Glen Carbon Police Department assisted a local Boy Scout with his Eagle Scout Project. The goal of the project was to furnish bicycles to needy and under privileged children for Christmas. The police department had accumulated over fifty unclaimed bicycles. The department, with the approval of the Village Board and after meeting the requirements of Illinois Compiled Statutes regarding unclaimed and recovered property, furnished the scout and his troop with the bicycles for refurbishing and restoration. Local businesses and individual made contributions to purchase parts and other items needed for the restoration. The project and the partnership between the department, the scouts and local business has continued and become an annual event. Several hundred bicycles have now been recycled back into the community through family shelters and social service organizations. The department is extremely proud to continue to participate in this program.