SPOKANE, Wash. - A community outreach program launched by the Spokane Police Department is succeeding at bridging the gap between law enforcement and local youth.
The week-long program works to promote positive police and youth interaction so they can better understand each other.
Chateria Parker participated in the program this week. Her reaction to law enforcement is a common one among many young people.
"It made me feel very intimidated, and I felt very uncomfortable," she said.
That's exactly what the program is designed to change.
"Engage the community, engage our young people, get over stereotypes and talk about how do we talk to each other in a respectable manner," said Chief of Police Frank Straub.
Chief Straub has successfully implemented this program in New York and Indiana, and says the benefits include reducing street violence among youth. And he's not the only who is positive about the outlook of the program in Spokane.
"We get to learn about the cop's personal life, our personal life. It's just a great way to understand each other and get involved," said program participant Isaiah Flick. Chief Straub says that's exactly what he wants.
"The biggest thing with the program is seeing people as individuals," he explained. "I'm a person underneath my uniform, a young person beside their hair style, their pants, the glasses they wear. Breaking through those barriers and starting to talk to those people is really what the success of this program's all about."
"It definitely opened my eyes to know that they are actually people too," said Parker at the end of the program. "I can connect with them a lot more now."