This was posted at the end of 2020 and I am re-posting as now there are some solid grants out there for opportunities in this initiative; should anyone be interested. Our youth are a sponge of information and it is up to adults to educate. I can't think of a more perfect time to discuss youth, community and police relations.
From December 17, 2020: Last night at the conclusion of a meeting with some community members, I asked a question I have dozens and dozens of times with community members: "what programs are in place for adults to use to teach our youth how to work with the police and to also try and build relationships with the police"? Typically people will respond with "the ol' C.O.P.S. program we used to have" to which they are referring to the Classes On Personal Safety that MPD Officers taught 5th graders during the school day. That was a great program covering drugs, alcohol, tobacco, internet safety and other topics. But like all meetings, there was no answer to a specific "curriculum" for parents, teachers and mentors to follow to help guide young children in learning about the police and how to work together. For years MPD has been training our Officers in the form of "trust-based policing", "de-escalation", "policing the teen brain" and "unconscious bias" training to name a few. Inside our Core Vales at MPD is "continuous improvement" and through training we try to improve our department and our service to the community. Additionally, MPD hires professional, well-educated Officers who seek to work with the community and problem-solve where appropriate. As we look to 2021 as a new year and new opportunity in our community, I hope that a curriculum is developed by professionals for adults to teach youth the importance of police in our community and more importantly the importance of relationship building, as it will take all of us in this enormous task. The young parents in the meeting last night said "Gee, I never thought of it that way. Honestly, right now I don't know what I would teach my kids about the police". It is time. Let's do this together. With all the smart people in Madison who study and work in education, parenting, psychology and mentoring, we ought to come up with something impactful. It is worth a try for a better 2021!!