RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia’s Attorney General is launching a new community program aimed at bridging the gap between Virginia’s youth and law enforcement.
The “Give It, Get It: Trust and Respect between Teens and Law Enforcement” campaign was announced Monday at the 16th annual Virginia Schools and Campus Training Forum in Hampton. Nearly 1,000 school resource officers, administrators, and security personnel were on hand for the conference.
Attorney General Mark Herring says the new program was created to help ensure safe, mutually respectful interactions between teens and police officers.
“One thing I heard is that many parents, especially African-American and Latino parents, worry about their child reacting to police in a moment of panic and either getting in more trouble or even creating a potentially dangerous situation. If we can help our young people understand what an officer is seeing and thinking during an encounter, we can take some of the fear out of these interactions and make them safer, and more likely to end positively,” Herring said.
The interactive program is the latest module in Herring’s Virginia Rules program, a law-based education program to help young people learn the law and ways to stay safe.
Richmond police, who already conduct a similar program to the “Give It, Get It” initiative, say they hope Herring’s program will help bolster other youth programs like the department’s Young Police Commissioners and Youth Academy program.
Richmond Police Sergeant Carol Adams leads the department’s Community Care Unit.
“Respect is about you give it to get it, but it’s important that we have an ongoing relationship,” Adams says. “That means we all have to be proactive as police officers and we have to engage the community and the community has to engage and be receptive of us.”
Nathaniel Pollard, a community activist and youth program director in the inner-city, says he sees promise in the new program, but only if police consistently offer it in their communities to young people.
“When it comes to learning, they’re willing to learn anything,” Pollard says. “They need to learn and once they learn, they will pass it on to someone else and that person will pass it on to someone else too.”