Sterling police work to improve community relations through schools

STERLING, Illinois-- When Mrs. Anderson's third grade class thinks of police officers, certain things come to mind.

"Really nice, he's really fun, and I can't wait to get to know him more," says third grader Eve Bentkowski.

It's not Chief Tim Morgan's first time in this classroom.

"Actually this classroom was my kindergarten class when I went to school here 100 years ago," says Chief Morgan.

But now he's back with 18 other officers who volunteer to come teach the Second Step Program.

"School's not just about reading and math. It's also figuring out how to get along with your neighbor," says Ashlea Anderson, a third grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary.

The district used to have a police lead D.A.R.E. program, and this year it got cut. But Chief Morgan found a way to still get officers inside the classroom.

"A lot of what they see on TV and the Internet isn't so positive when it comes to police work, and I feel by having these interactions with officers, it's going to improve community relations for years," says Chief Morgan.

It's only the second week of the program, and those positive interactions are already rubbing off on students.

"They may seem scary, but they're actually not. They're very nice," says Bentkowski.

"Realizing police officers are people too, and they can approach us. We're not the bad guy. We're the good guy," says Chief Morgan.