Teenagers got a chance to interact with law enforcement last week during a program that aims to build trust within the community and government officials.
The “Get Caught Up” event for students in sixth through twelfth grades was at Chay Youth Activity Center on April 13. This event happens every three months.
“We are trying to build open communication with individuals that work and live in the community,” said Denise Honeycutt, director of the youth center. “The kids, their parents, the Military Police, fire department and schools — this is our way of bringing everyone together so they can just have a good time, get to know each other — more like a network to the community.”
From one-on-one to group activities, this event was to provide children and law enforcement with an opportunity to have open communication while participating in activities including basketball, pool and video games.
“We are trying to build the relationship between the police officers and the youth,” said Annette Bennett, assistant director of the youth center. “There is so much negativity about police officers and kids. They need to build a rapport with officers. Kids need to know that when they see a police officer that they are safe and that they do not need to be afraid.”
Recent national events have portrayed law enforcement in a negative light, which can lead to a loss of trust by the public. Activities like this event can be critical to help youth and police build that trust, organizers said.
“I see a lot of kids get the trust back,” Bennett said. “The police officers, they are here weekly. They do not just come quarterly when we have an event, they come here to connect with the youth almost daily. We get out of this knowing that the kids have someone that they can trust. We want parents to know that this is available for them. We do not allow them to only watch TV, we also do life skills activities and give opportunities to earn scholarships. Parents need to know about these opportunities as well. It’s not about only coming here to play videos games.”
Parents are encouraged to volunteer for upcoming Get Caught Up events.
For further information, call 908-5012.