The Community Outreach through Police in Schools Program is being implemented in middle schools within communities in which children are especially vulnerable to being exposed to violence and trauma. Targeted schools are in areas identified as having high rates of crime and community violence. The curriculum is designed to meet the developmental needs of middle school students, and any middle school student living in a targeted area is eligible to participate in the group. (The curriculum may not be appropriate for younger students.) Each identified school selects students from fifth or sixth grade classes, who are then randomly assigned to groups. Ideally, all students in an identified grade rotate through the program. In some cases, when resources do not allow for participation by all students in a grade, the school principal or other school officials select the group participants. To participate, students must have the permission of their parents and possess the basic skills and ability to participate in a group process. Students with severe behavioral or emotional problems may not be suited to participate in the group.
Because this is a school-based program that occurs during the school day, the program needs to be coordinated with school administration and faculty. Arrangements must be made for students to review any missed class material with school staff. Typically, the group is held during elective time or during class time for subject material that is relevant to the group content. In New Haven, groups are held as part of the schools social development curriculum and approved by the school board at the beginning of the academic year.