FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Hundreds of students are interacting with South Florida police officers this summer, from playing on the field to learning together in a classroom.
“We have activities going on every day here. We’re Monday through Thursday,” said Miramar Police Officer Scott Hadley. “The kids have a great time. They get here at 8 a.m. They’re here until 3.”
Miramar’s is one of several local police departments across South Florida working to bridge the gap between officers and the young community.
One of the efforts was a teen summit hosted by the Fort Lauderdale Black Police Officers Association on Friday at Stranahan High School. On the agenda are social media use, life skills and etiquette, among other valuable things.
“You know, sometimes we don’t really know our neighborhood officers, so when you get to engage in an environment like this, you’re more able to relate to the officers and speak to the officers when you see them,” said Fort Lauderdale Police officer Krystle Smith. “These are all students and juveniles who live in the areas that we work, so when they see us in the streets, they’re more inclined to come up to us and speak with us.”
In Miramar, dozens of children ages 9 through 14 are spending time with officers going to the movies, swimming in the ocean and even touring the Everglades. It’s part of the “Hangin’ with 5-0” summer camp program.
“I come here because of all the field trips that they have and also the people that they have,” said ninth-grader Brandi Wright. “They make me laugh every day. It’s really fun.”
In Coral Springs, police officers organized a six-week program to mentor 6- to 11-year-olds and teach them important safety lessons.
Overall, officials said, this program’s goal is to interact with those who protect and serve and get to know them on a more personal level. “Showing that officers are not a scary thing, and they’re not something to be afraid of,” said Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum. “They’re people that care for you, that want the best for you bonds, and that’s what I’ve seen with this program. These officers are forming these bonds with our young residents.”
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