Youth Police Initiative fostering better relations between cops, community

Youth Police Initiative fostering better relations between cops, community

Spokane Police are working to better understand kids in our community through the Youth and Police Initiative, an effort to promote positive interaction between youth and police.

Police Chief Frank Straub has done the initiative at his previous postings in White Plains, NY and Indianapolis before coming to Spokane and the ultimate goal of the program is for officers to understand the beliefs and values of youth, specifically those dealing with urban socialization issues.

This is the third installment of the initiative in Spokane, and in this iteration youth from the West Central neighborhood took part in a five-day course. Neighborhood kids and officers took part in discussions, team-building exercises and scenarios based on real events.

Both youth and officers say it's been a fun and successful week.

"After this session is over the kids can have friends in the police department. They will know 6-8 officers who they can hopefully trust and begin that healing of any miscommunications between youth and police," Officer Ben Green said.

"Knowing the cops, like getting to know them better, if I see them on the street and they need help with something I can help them with it," participant Daimein Eckley said.

The program started in East Central and then went to Hillyard and now West Central. The plan is to hold a course in every community in Spokane and then go back to each community center the initiative has already been held in.

The participants in the initiative will have a graduation Friday, and everyone who participated in all five days will be paid an $80 stipend.