National School Safety and Security Services is proud to recognize and salute the K.R.A.M.E.R. Program and its founders, Deputy Juli Lathrop of the Chemung County Sheriff’s Department and the original KRAMER, for their accomplishments in the Elmira City School District in Elmira, New York, as well as throughout their entire community and across the nation. This web page is dedicated to the memory and many years of service provided by the original KRAMER, who passed away on September 17, 2006.
The following program description and support information was provided by Deputy Lathrop:
The K.R.A.M.E.R. Program is named for the original dog, Kramer, and was established in 1999 to promote the relationship between youth and law enforcement and promote social and educational skills that would build a foundation for a successful student/citizen.
K.R.A.M.E.R. is a combination of programs that partner the Sheriff’s Department, Schools, Community Agencies and Dogs in an effort to support every aspect of student and family needs. Dogs and students are mixed in programs including reading, character education, self-esteem building, social skills, safety classes (fire, bike, stranger danger, Halloween, computer, safety seats, tobacco awareness and many more), counseling groups for sex abuse survivors, counseling groups for those who have suffered a suicide or violent death in the family, grief groups through Hospice, behavior modification (the biggest use in the schools), attendance and grade incentives, anger management and pairing youth with senior citizens in projects that promote generational communication.
There is also an after-school program for anger management/life skills that gives the students four hours a week learning coping skills, anger replacement skills and everything to do with living in these tough teenage years. The program runs twice a week for two hours each day. The first hour is classroom time where they learn kinder ways of dealing with conflict. The second hour pairs students with dogs from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). These dogs have been abused, abandoned, neglected and “thrown out”. Many of these dogs would normally be euthanized due to behavior problems or being in the shelters too long.
The students are totally responsible for the training of their assigned dog until they are adopted. This class teaches responsibility, love, empathy, sympathy and kindness. All training is motivational, reward centered training. Through this program over 200 students (we only take 10-14 students at a time for 10 classes per session) have been through the program and to date more than 270 dogs have been successfully socialized, obedience trained and adopted to loving homes or donated to agencies around the country that are starting the dog-in-school programs or using dogs as educational tools. This is a 100% success rate for the dogs. We end the 2005/2006 school year with over 80 students on a waiting list for the class. This is a voluntary program.
Students can earn time walking the dogs in the school during the school day by just being good students/citizens or by improving their poor behaviors, grades and/or attendance. This is done with either a written contract or a verbal agreement. The behavior modification has been so successful we are nearing 40 students who have been removed from the Family Court “pending” list due to such great improvements. Not only is this a great win for the student and family, but also a great financial relief for social services, probation and juvenile detention system. Although hundreds of students walk, visit or read to the dogs each week each dog has an assigned “trainer”. These trainers are students whose attendance and behavior could not be controlled by other means and have been successfully controlled with use of the dogs. They have to attend school all five days of the week to get their training session once a week with their dog. They are able to walk other dogs between their training sessions. There are currently 11 dogs rotating through the programs. This does not include the shelter dogs.
The K.R.A.M.E.R. dogs are also used in interviews with young sex abuse victims, counseling sessions with youngsters who have witnessed or been victim of violent crimes (some had even become selective mutes) and emotionally disturbed youth. The dogs are 100% successful in disclosures and convictions, plus the entire group of selective mutes has returned to speaking communication.
K.R.A.M.E.R. is not a set program and is modified to meet the needs of the particular student or group we are working with at the time. It is based on a “needs” system. If we need to reach a student, we come up with a program to do that………..whatever it takes!!!