In Baltimore, Maryland's Eastern District, police officers are taking a proactive and community-centered approach to keeping families and neighborhoods safe.
Police officers realize that in order to be effective at their jobs, they need to build trust and cooperation with the communities they serve. And a police force in Baltimore is going one step further by actively working to find solutions to their community's problems and becoming positive mentors to children in rough neighborhoods.
Writing in today's Baltimore Sun, police officer Quinise Green explains:
We see ourselves not just as enforcers of the law but also as problem solvers and supporters of the people in our "hood."Our district commander demands that we be an integral part of the community. We go on walks with stakeholders in the neighborhoods to identify problems and find ways to fix them. If we see kids playing where they aren't supposed to, we don't just yell at them to move; we find another place they can play.
One such place is the Eisenhower Foundation Oliver Center, which is funded through the Department of Justice and home to the Youth Safe Haven program. I serve as a mentor to high-risk kids from the Barclay neighborhood at the center. Their lives are littered with challenges most Americans don't have to face: hunger, homelessness, parents with serious substance abuse problems and wrenching poverty. Some days, the snack and lunch at the youth safe haven is their only meal. It is a tough life for our 6-to-11-year-olds. For many of these children, the program has been their lifeline for survival.
Officer Green goes on to share the story of one of her mentees, who went from a troubled and "tough" to compassionate and caring, as a result of the mentoring program. This is a terrific example of the importance of mentoring and the role caring adults can play in the lives of struggling teens. Keep up the great work, Officer Green!
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
Updated: May 21 2012