EPA teens get to ask police questions

March 12, 2010 11:50:49 PM PST
For so many young people in our communities, finding common ground with police officers is not easy, but they did in East Palo Alto on Friday night.

That common ground was actually a basketball court, however the game itself was only part of the point.

"Why are police officers so rude sometimes?" asked one young man.

"Somebody call you, it takes like 30 minutes to get there..." said another.

East Palo Alto teens at the Boys and Girls Club wanted to know why local police have been behaving the way they have towards young people, especially those that are caught doing something illegal. It is the first time these teens have had this opportunity.

Officer Richard Barries, his wife Veronica, and Clay Warford, are three of the East Palo Alto police officers who organized the question and answer period at the Boys and Girls Club.

The talk was held just before the first ever basketball game between officers and the staff and members of the club. It was a night of getting to know their local police.

"So I thought this would be an opportunity to where we could build a relationship with them," said Richard.

Richard said police are having a lot of trouble with youth in the city. That is why an 11 p.m. curfew is now in place for anyone under age 18.

"...a lot of things from robbing cars to shooting, so pretty much every crime that you hear being committed. We're just trying to reduce a lot of those crimes and show them that we're out here to help them," said Richard.

"Alcohol, why did it become such a big deal and you go to court?" asked 14-year-old Everline Vargas.

"Alcohol is very dangerous," said Richard.

Alcohol, teen pregnancy, and drug abuse are just some of the topics covered, as well as some of the consequences for breaking the law.

"He was cool. I liked how if you didn't know something about the law, that you kind of know it now," said 13-year-old Yomanee Rhodes.

"It was like inspiring and it really helped," said 13-year-old Diana Molina.

"I think it is going to help me later on to think about my consequences," said Vargas.

Organizers hope that activities like this will help build a bridge between youth and police and perhaps even reduce crime.


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