St. Louis Police Department implements programs in hopes of conn - KMOV.com

St. Louis Police Department implements programs in hopes of connecting with youth

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The St. Louis Police Department has implemented two programs in hopes of bringing the gap between officers and the community.

Last year, a program called “STOP,” which stands for “Students Talking It Over with Police,” was unveiled. The program works by allowing students in 11 middle schools in the city to visit with officers once a week.

“I would like my friends to be more friendly to show a lot more respect to police officers because the role playing was difficult,” said Tyler Jones, who is a participate in the “STOP” program.

In addition to role playing, students are asked to talk about the negative or positive experiences they may have had with police. The officers tell them things about the job, including what’s in an officer’s belt or what hot-spot policing means. The goal of the program is to allow students to see officers in a different light.

“For lack of a better term, we have to get real with them. We have to,” said Lt. Perri Johnson, Commander of the Juvenile Division. “You have to see me as an individual, as a person that puts on this uniform and understand why I do my job and why I do it the way that I do it and that not every negative incident they see out there is going to be a part of what we do or is the way that we do things.”

The second program also deals with young people and is called “GREAT,” standing for “Gang Resistance Education And Training.” The goal of this program is to stop young people from being involved in gang violence and membership.

“They are better than what they seem they are and what they see on TV because sometimes it cannot be true, and if you really meet them face to face, they can really be better than what you think they are and what they say they are,” said “GREAT” program participant Jada Shields.

Unlike the “STOP” program, the “GREAT” program involves elementary and middle school students. The program allows officers to work with students on anger management and communication.

“We’re human, we’re just like them. The things that they are going through and the neighborhoods that they walk and the streets that they live on, we come from those streets,” said Col. Ronnie Robinson, Deputy Chief of the St. Louis Police Department’s Commander of the Bureau of Community Affairs. “We chose the life to be in law enforcement and give back to our community and they need to hear that.”

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