Colorado boysSMALLLLLLLLLLLLSgt. Jim Gerhardt and Cmdr. Jerry Peters of the Thornton Police Department in Colorado are presenting a pilot program by the Criminal Justice Institute (Division of the University of Arkansas System) titled Child Maltreatment/Drug Endangered Children class at the Benton Police Department through Friday, Feb. 26.

The course is designed to bring law enforcement agencies, child protective services, and criminal justice probation into a structured collaborative network for all child maltreatment cases with an underlying emphasis on determining the nexus to drug endangerment. This network is designed to improve safety for children through coordinated leveraging of information and resources between the Human Services and Criminal Justice Systems.

The goals of the program includes, but is not limited to, breaking the cycle of child maltreatment, increasing child safety and permanence, reducing juvenile entry into the criminal justice system, decreasing juvenile probation caseloads, reducing maltreatment fatalities, improving interagency collaborations, decreasing school disciplinary actions, and increasing graduation rates. Representatives from Arkansas agencies includes, Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Department of Community Correction, Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Saline County Sheriff’s Office and the Benton Police Department.

Sgt. Gerhardt is a 27-year commissioned law enforcement officer with the Thornton Police Department, including assignment with the North Metro Task Force; vice president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association; and a founding member of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. Cmdr. Peters is also a 27-year commissioned law enforcement officer, including 24 years at the Thornton Police Department, including assignment with the North Metro Task Force; and was appointed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as the vice-chair for Criminal Justice for the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force.